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CHRONICLES OF CANADA SERIES 
THIRTY-TWO VOLUMES ILLUSTRATED 

Edited by GEORGE M. WRONG and H. H. LANGTON 



CHRONICLES OF CANADA SERIES 



PART I 

THE FIRST 

EUROPEAN 

VISITORS 



PART II 

THE RISE 

OF NEW 

FRANCE 



PART ill 

THE 

ENGLISH 
INVASION 



1. THE DAWN OF CANADIAN HISTORY 

By Stephen Leacock. 

2. THE MARINER OF ST MALO 

By Stephen Leacock. 

3. THE FOUNDER OF NEW FRANCE 

By Charles W. Colby. 

4. THE JESUIT MISSIONS 

By Thomas Guthrie Marquis. 

5. THE SEIGNEURS OF OLD CANADA 

By William Bennett Munro. 

6. THE GREAT INTENDANT 

By Thomas Chapais. 

7. THE FIGHTING GOVERNOR * 

By Charles W. Colby. 

8. THE GREAT FORTRESS 

By William Wood. 

9. THE ACADIAN EXILES * 

By Arthur G. Doughty. 

10. THE PASSING OF NEW FRANCE 

By William Wood. 

11. THE WINNING OF CANADA 

By William Wood. 

NOTE. Save for slight changes in arrangement and in the words 
of a few of the titles, this list remains essentially as printed in 
the prospectus with the twelve volumes first published, and may 
now be regarded as final. The eight volumes marked with an 
asterisk, however, are still in preparation and subject to changes 
in authorship should unforeseen circumstances prevent any author 
from completing his manuscript. 



CHRONICLES OF CANADA SERIES 



12. THE FATHER OF BRITISH CANADA* 

By William Wood. 

13. THE UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS 

By W. Stewart Wallace. 

14. THE WAR WITH THE UNITED STATES 

By William Wood. 



PART IV 

THE 

BEGINNINGS 
OF BRITISH 

CANADA 



15. THE WAR CHIEF OF THE OTTAWAS 

By Thomas Guthrie Marquis. 

16. THE WAR CHIEF OF THE SIX NATIONS 

By Louis Aubjey Wood. 

17. TECUMSEH: THE LAST GREAT LEADER 

OF HIS PEOPLE 

By Ethel T. Raymond. 



PART V 

THE 

RED MAN 
IN CANADA 



18. THE 'ADVENTURERS OF ENGLAND' 

ON HUDSON BAY 

By Agnes C. Laut. 

19. PATHFINDERS OF THE GREAT 

PLAINS 

By Lawrence J. Burpee. 

20. ADVENTURERS OF THE FAR NORTH 

By Stephen Leacock. 

21. THE RED RIVER COLONY 

By Louis Aubrey Wood. 

22. PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

By Agnes C. Laut. 

23. THE CARIBOO TRAIL * 

By Agnes C. Laut. 



PART VI 

PIONEERS 

OF THE 

NORTH AND 

WEST 



CHRONICLES OF CANADA SERIES 



PART VII 

THE 
STRUGGLE 

FOR 

POLITICAL 
FREEDOM 



24. THE FAMILY COMPACT 

By W. Stewart Wallace. 

25. THE 'PATRIOTES' OF '37* 

By Alfred D. DeCelles. 

26. THE TRIBUNE OF NOVA SCOTIA 

By William Lawson Grant. 

27. THE WINNING OF POPULAR 

GOVERNMENT * 

By Archibald MacMechan. 



PART VIII 

THE 

GROWTH OF 
NATIONALITY 



28. THE FATHERS OF CONFEDERA- 

TION * 

By A. H. U. Colquhoun. 

29. THE DAY OF SIR JOHN MACDONALD 

By Sir Joseph Pope. 

30. THE DAY OF SIR WILFRID LAURIER * 

By Oscar D. Skelton. 



PART IX 
NATIONAL 
HIGHWAYS 



31. ALL AFLOAT 

By William Wood. 

32. THE RAILWAY BUILDERS 

By Oscar D. Skelton. 



TORONTO : GLASGOW, BROOK & COMPANY 



PIONEERS OF THE 
PACIFIC COAST 

BY AGNES C. LAUT 




THE DESCENT OF THE ERASER RIVER, it 
From a colour drawing by C. W. JefFerys 



PIONEERS OF THE 
PACIFIC COAST 

A Chronicle of Sea Rovers 
and Fur Hunters 

BY 
AGNES CI'LAUT 





TORONTO 

GLASGOW, BROOK & COMPANY 
1915 



Copyright in all Countries subscribing to 
the Berne Conrention 






CONTENTS 

Page 

I. THE VOYAGE OF THE 'GOLDEN HIND' . I 

II. VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC . . n 

III. THE OUTLAW HUNTERS .... 30 

IV. COOK AND VANCOUVER .... 45 

V. 'ALEXANDER MACKENZIE, FROM CANADA, 

BY LAND ' 71 

VI. THE DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER . 86 

VII. THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS . . 99 

VIII. THE PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS . . US 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE . . . .132 

INDEX 135 



ILLUSTRATIONS 

THE DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER, 1808 Frontispiece 
From a colour drawing by C. W. Jefferys. 

ROUTES OF EXPLORERS ON THE PACIFIC 

COAST ...... Facing page 44 

Map by Bartholomew. 

JAMES COOK ,,46 

From the portrait by Dance in the Gallery of 
Greenwich Hospital. 

THE LAUNCH OF THE 'NORTH-WEST 

AMERICA' AT NOOTKA SOUND, 1788 . 58 

From Meares's 'Voyages.' 

CALLICUM AND MAQUINNA, CHIEFS OF 

NOOTKA SOUND .... ,,68 

From Meares's ' Voyages.' 

GEORGE VANCOUVER .... 70 

From a painting in the National Portrait Gallery, 
London. 

SIMON FRASER * 90 

After the portrait in the Parliament Buildings, 
Victoria, B.C. 

Tii 



viii PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

JOHN M'LOUGHLIN . . . . Facing page 116 

Photographed by Savannah from an original 
painting. 

FORT VANCOUVER .... 118 

From a print in the John Ross Robertson Collec- 
tion, Toronto Public Library. 

THE FORT OF THE HUDSON'S BAY COM- 
PANY, VICTORIA, B.C. ... ,,128 
From a photograph by Savannah. 



CHAPTER I 

THE VOYAGE OF THE QOLDEN HIND 

ALL through the sixteenth century the South 
Seas were regarded as a mysterious wonder- 
world, whence Spain drew unlimited wealth 
of gold and silver bullion, of pearls and 
precious stones. Spain had declared the 
Pacific ' a closed sea ' to the rest of the world. 
But in 1567 it happened that Sir John Haw- 
kins, an English mariner, was cruising in the 
Gulf of Mexico, when a terrific squall, as he 
said, drove his ships landward to Vera Cruz, 
and he sent a messenger to the Spanish viceroy 
there asking permission to dock and repair his 
battered vessels. Now on one of the English 
ships was a young officer, not yet twenty-five 
years of age, named Francis Drake. Twelve 
Spanish merchantmen rigged as frigates lay 
in the harbour, and Drake observed that cargo 
of small bulk but ponderous weight, and 
evidently precious, was being stowed in their 
capacious holds. Was this the gold and silver 

P-P.C. A 



2 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

bullion that was enriching Spain beyond 
men's dreams ? Whence did it come ? 
Could English privateers intercept it on the 
high seas ? 

Perhaps the English adventurers evinced 
too great interest in that precious cargo ; for 
though the Spanish governor had granted 
them permission to repair their ships, the 
English had barely dismantled when Spanish 
fire-ships came drifting down on their moor- 
ings. A cannon-shot knocked a mug of beer 
from Hawkins's hand, and head over heels he 
fell into the sea, while a thousand Spaniards 
began sabring the English crew ashore. Some 
friendly hand threw out a rope to Haw- 
kins, who was clad in complete armour. In 
the dark, unseen by the enemy, he pulled 
himself up the side of a smaller ship, and, 
cutting hawsers, scudded for the open sea. 
There escaped, also, of Hawkins's fleet another 
small ship, which was commanded by Francis 
Drake ; and after much suffering both vessels 
reached England. 

One can imagine the effect on young Drake 
of the treacherous act and of the glimpse of 
that cargo of gold and silver treasure. The 
English captains had but asked a night's 
lodging from a power supposed to be friendly. 



VOYAGE OF THE GOLDEN HIND 3 

They had been met by a pirate raid. Good ! 
Young Francis Drake eagerly took up Spain's 
challenge ; he would meet the raid with 
counter-raid. Three years later he was cruis- 
ing the Spanish Main, capturing and plunder- 
ing ships and forts and towns. In 1572 he 
led his men across the Isthmus of Panama, and 
intercepted and captured a Spanish convoy of 
treasure coming overland. Near the south 
side of the isthmus he climbed a tree and 
had his first glimpse of the Pacific. It set 
his blood on the leap. On bended knee he 
prayed aloud to the Almighty to be permitted 
to sail the first English ship on that ' faire 
sea.* And, having recrossed the isthmus and 
loaded his ships with plunder, he bore away 
for England and reached Plymouth in August 

I573- 

The raid on Panama had brought Drake 
enormous wealth. At his own cost he built 
three frigates and two sloops to explore the 
South Seas, his purpose being to enter the 
Pacific through the Strait of Magellan, which 
no Englishman had yet ventured to pass. 
These ships he equipped as if for royal tour- 
nament. Players of the violin and the harp 
discoursed music at each meal. Rarest wines 
filled the lockers. Drake, clad in rich velvet, 



4 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

dined on plates of pure gold served by ten 
young noblemen, who never sat or donned hat 
in his presence ; and on his own ship, the 
Pelican afterwards called the Golden Hind 
he had a hundred picked marines, men eager 
for battle and skilful in wielding the cutlass. 
His men loved him as a dauntless leader ; they 
feared him, too, with a fear that commanded 
obedience on the instant. 

Queen Elizabeth was in a quandary how to 
treat her gallant buccaneer and rover of the 
high seas. England and Spain were at peace, 
and she could not give Drake an open royal 
commission to raid the commerce of a friendly 
power ; but she did present him with a 
magnificent sword, to signify that she would 
have no objection if he should cut his way 
through the portals leading to the ' closed 
sea.* The fleet set sail in December 1577, and 
steered by the west coast of Morocco and the 
Cape Verde Islands. The coast of Brazil was 
reached in April. Two of the ships were 
abandoned near the mouth of the Rio de la 
Plata, after having been stripped of pro- 
visions. In August the remaining three ships 
entered the tempestuous seas around Cape 
Horn. Drake drove before the gales with sails 
close-reefed and hatches battened, and came 



VOYAGE OF THE GOLDEN HIND 5 

out with only one of his three ships left, the 
first English keel to cleave the waters of the 
Pacific. In honour of the feat Drake renamed 
his ship the Golden Hind. Perhaps there was 
jocose irony in the suggestion of gold and speed. 
Certain it is, the crew of the Golden Hind were 
well content with the possession of both gold 
and speed before advancing far up the west 
coast of South America. 

Quite by chance, which seems always to 
favour the daring, somewhere off the coast of 
Chile Drake picked up an Indian fisherman. 
The natives of South America, for the best of 
reasons, hated their Spanish masters, who 
enslaved them, treated them brutally, and 
forced them to work in the pearl fisheries and 
the mines. Drake persuaded the Indian to 
pilot his ship into the harbour of Valparaiso. 
Never dreaming that any foreign vessel had 
entered the Pacific, Spanish treasure-ships lay 
rocking to the tide in fancied security, and 
actually dipped colours to Drake. Drake 
laughed, waved his plumed hat back in salute, 
dealt out wine to give courage to * his merrie 
boys,' and sailed straight amid the anchored 
treasure-ships. Barely had the Golden Hind 
taken a position in the midst of the enemy's 
fleet, when, selecting one of the staunchest 



6 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

vessels of the enemy, Drake had grappling- 
irons thrown out, clamping his ship to her 
victim. In a trice the English sailors were 
on the Spanish deck with swords out and the 
rallying-cry of * God and St George ! Down 
with Spanish dogs ! ' Dumbfounded and un- 
armed, down the hatches, over the bulwarks 
into the sea, reeled the surprised Spaniards. 
Drake clapped hatches down upon those 
trapped inside, and turned his cannon on the 
rest of the unguarded Spanish fleet. Literally, 
not a drop of blood was shed. The treasure- 
ships were looted of their cargoes and sent 
drifting out to sea. 

All the other harbours of the Pacific were 
raided and looted in similar summary fashion ; 
and, somewhere seaward from Lima, Drake 
learned of a treasure -ship bearing untold 
riches the Glory of the South Seas the huge 
caravel in which the Spaniards sent home 
to Spain the yearly tribute of bullion. The 
Golden Hind, with her sails spread to the wind, 
sought for the Glory like a harrier for its quarry. 
One crew of Spaniards on a small ship that 
was scuttled saved their throats by telling 
Drake that the great ship was only two days 
ahead, and loaded to the water-line with wealth 
untold. Drake crowded sail, had muskets 



VOYAGE OF THE GOLDEN HIND 7 

and swords furbished and thirty cannon 
loaded, and called on his crew to quit them- 
selves like men. And when the wind went down 
he ordered small boats out to tow the Golden 
Hind. For five days the hunt lasted, never 
slackening by day or by night ; and when, at 
three in the afternoon of a day in March, 
Drake's brother shouted from the cross-trees, 
' Sail ho ! ' every man aboard went mad with 
impatience to crowd on the last inch of canvas 
and overtake the rich prize. The Englishmen 
saw that the Spanish ship was so heavily 
laden that she was making but slow progress ; 
and so unconscious was the Spanish captain of 
danger, that when he discerned a ship approach- 
ing he actually lowered canvas and awaited 
what he thought might be fresh orders from 
the viceroy. The Golden Hind sped on till 
she was almost alongside the Spaniard ; then 
Drake let go full blast all thirty cannon, 
as fast as he could shift and veer for the 
cannoneers to take aim. Yards, sails, masts 
fell shattered and torn from the splendid 
Spanish ship. The English clapped their 
grappling -hooks to her sides, and naked 
swords did the rest. To save their lives, 
the Spanish crew, after a feeble resistance, 
surrendered, and bullion to the value in 



8 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

modern money of almost a million dollars 
fell into the hands of the men of the 
Golden Hind. 

Drake's vessel was now loaded deep with 
treasure, and preparations were made to 
sail homeward, but her commander realized 
that it would be dangerous to attempt to 
return to England by way of the Spanish 
Main with a ship so heavily laden that she 
must sail slowly. It was then that legends 
of a North-East Passage came into his mind. 
He would sail northward in search of the 
strait that was supposed to lead through the 
continent to the Atlantic the mythical strait 
of Anian. As the world knows, there was no 
such passage ; but how far north did Drake 
sail seeking it ? Some accounts say as far as 
Oregon ; others, as far as the northern coast 
of California; but, at all events, as he advanced 
farther north he found that the coast sheered 
farther and farther west. So he gave over 
his attempt to find the strait of the legends, 
and turned back and anchored in ' a faire 
and good bay,' which is now known as Drake's 
Bay, a short distance north of San Francisco ; 
and, naming the region New Albion, he 
claimed it for Queen Elizabeth. In July 1579 
he weighed anchor and steered south-west. 



VOYAGE OF THE GOLDEN HIND 9 

He reached the Molucca Islands in November, 
and arrived at Java in March. In June he 
rounded the Cape of Good Hope and then 
beat his way up the Atlantic to England. In 
September 1580 the Golden Hind entered the 
harbour of Plymouth. How Drake became 
the lion of the hour when he reached Eng- 
land, after having circumnavigated the globe, 
need not be told. Ballads were recited in his 
honour. Queen Elizabeth dined in state on 
the Golden Hind, and, after the dinner, with 
the sword which she had given him when he 
set out, she conferred on Drake the honour 
of knighthood, as the seal of his country's 
acclaim. 

Drake's conclusions regarding the supposed 
passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic were 
correct, though for two hundred years they 
were rejected by geographers. His words are 
worth setting down : ' The Asian and Ameri- 
can continents, if they be not fully joined, yet 
seem they to come very neere, from whose high 
and snow-covered mountains, the north and 
north-west winds send abroad their frozen 
nimphes to the infecting of the whole air 
hence comes it that in the middest of their 
summer, the snow hardly departeth from these 
hills at all; hence come those thicke mists and 



10 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

most stinking fogges, . . . for these reasons 
we coniecture that either there is no passage 
at all through these Northerne coasts, which 
is most likely, or if there be, that it is 
unnauigable.' 



CHAPTER II 

VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 

SINCE Drake's day more than a century had 
rolled on. Russia was awakening from ages 
of sleep, as Japan has awakened in our time, 
and Peter the Great was endeavouring to pilot 
the ship of state out to the wide seas of a world 
destiny. Peter, like the German Kaiser of 
to-day, was ambitious to make his country a 
world-power. He had seen enough of Europe 
to learn that neighbouring nations were in- 
creasing their strength in three ways by 
conquest, by discovery, and by foreign com- 
merce and that foreign commerce meant, 
not only buying and selling, but carrying 
the traffic of other nations. The East India 
Company, in whose dockyards he had worked 
as a carpenter, was a striking instance of the 
strength that could be built up by foreign 
commerce. Its ships cruised from Nova 
Zembla to Persia and East India, carrying 

forth the products of English workshops and 

11 



12 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

farms, and bringing back the treasures of all 
lands. 

By conquest, Peter had extended the 
bounds of his empire from the Ural Mountains 
to the seas of China. By discovery, what 
remained to be done ? France and England 
had acquired most of the North American 
continent. Spain and Portugal claimed South 
America ; and Spain had actually warned the 
rest of the world that the Pacific was ' a closed 
sea.' But there were legends of a vast domain 
yet undiscovered. Juan de Fuca, a Greek 
pilot, employed, as alleged, by Spanish ex- 
plorers between 1587 and 1592, was reported 
to have told of a passage from the Pacific 
to the Arctic through a mountainous forested 
land up in the region of what is now British 
Columbia. Whether Juan lied, or mistook 
his own fancies for facts, or whether the whole 
story was invented by his chronicler Michael 
Lok, does not much matter. The fact was 
that Spanish charts showed extensive un- 
explored land north of Drake's New Albion 
or California. At this time geographers had 
placed on their maps a vast continent called 
Gamaland between America and Asia ; and, 
as if in corroboration of this fiction, when 
Peter's Cossacks struggled doggedly across 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 13 

Asia, through Siberia, to the Pacific, people 
on these far shores told tales of drift-wood 
coming from America, of islands leading like 
steps through the sea to America, of a nation 
like themselves, whose walrus -hide boats 
sometimes drifted to Siberia and Kamchatka. 
If any new and wealthy region of the world 
remained to be discovered, Peter felt that it 
must be in the North Pacific. When it is 
recalled that Spain was supposed to have 
found in Peru temples lined with gold, floors 
paved with silver, and pearls readily ex- 
changed in bucketfuls for glass beads, it 
can be realized that the motive for discovery 
was not merely scientific. It was one that 
actuated princes and merchants alike. And 
Peter the Great had an additional motive 
the development of his country's merchant 
shipping. It was this that had induced him 
to establish the capital of his kingdom on the 
Baltic. So, in 1725, five weeks before his 
deathone of the most terrible deaths in 
history, when remorse and ghosts of terrible 
memories came to plague his dying hours till 
his screams could be heard through the palace 
halls he issued a commission for one of the 
greatest expeditions of discovery that ever 
set out for America a commission to Vitus 



14 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Bering, the Dane, to explore the Pacific for 
Russia. 

Like Peter the Great, Vitus Bering had 
served an apprenticeship with the East India 
Company. It is more than probable that he 
first met his royal patron while he was in this 
service. While other expeditions to explore 
America had but to cross the sea before be- 
ginning their quest, Bering's expedition had 
to cross the width of Europe, and then the 
width of Asia, before it could reach even the 
sea. Between St Petersburg and the Pacific lay 
six thousand miles of mountain and tundra. 
Caravans, flat-boats, and dog- trains must 
be provided to transport supplies; and the 
vessels to be used at the end of the land 
journey must be built on the Pacific. The 
explorers were commissioned to levy tribute 
for food and fur on Tartar tribes as their 
caravans worked slowly eastward. Bering's 
first voyage does not concern America. He 
set out from Kamchatka on July 9, 1728, with 
forty-four men, and sailed far enough north 
to prove that Asia and America were not 
united by any Gamaland, and that the 
strait now bearing his name separated the 
two continents ; but, like the tribes of 
Siberia, he saw signs of a great land area on 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 15 

the other side of the rain-hidden sea. Out 
of the blanketing fog drifted trees, seaweed, 
bits of broken boats. And though Bering, 
like the English navigator Drake, was con- 
vinced that no Gamaland existed, he was 
confronted by the learned geographers, who 
had a Gamaland on their maps and demanded 
truculently, whence came the signs of land ? 

In March 1730, within one month of the 
time he returned to St Petersburg, Bering 
was again ordered to prepare to carry out the 
dead emperor's command ' to find and set 
down reliably what was in the Pacific.' The 
explorer had now to take his orders from the 
authorities of the Academy of Sciences, whose 
bookish inexperience and visionary theories 
were to hamper him at every turn. Botan- 
ists, artists, seven monks, twelve physicians, 
Cossack soldiers in all, nearly six hundred 
men were to accompany him ; and to trans- 
port this small army of explorers, four thou- 
sand pack-horses were sent winding across the 
desert wastes of Siberia, with one thousand 
exiles as guides and boatmen to work the boats 
and rafts on the rivers and streams. Great 
blaring of trumpets marked the arrival and 
departure of the caravans at the Russian 
forts on the way ; and if the savants, whose 



presence pestered the soul of poor Bering, 
had been half as keen in overcoming the 
difficulties of the daily trail as they were in 
drinking pottle-deep to future successes, there 
would have been less bickering and delay in 
reaching the Pacific. Dead horses marked 
the trail across two continents. The Cossack 
soldiers deserted and joined the banditti that 
scoured the Tartar plains ; and for three 
winters the travellers were storm-bound in 
the mountains of Siberia. But at length they 
reached Avacha Bay on the eastern shore of 
Kamchatka, and the waters of the Pacific 
gladdened the eyes of the weary travellers. 
At Petropavlovsk on the bay they built a 
fort, houses, barracks, a chapel, and two 
vessels, named the St Peter and the St Paul. 

Early on the morning of June 4, 1741, the 
chapel bells were set ringing. At dawn 
prayers were chanted to invoke the blessing of 
Heaven on the success of the voyage. Monks 
in solemn procession paraded to the water's 
edge, singing. The big, bearded men, who had 
doggedly, drunkenly, profanely, religiously, 
marched across deserts and mountains to 
reach the sea, gave comrades a last fond 
embrace, ran down the sand, jumped into 
the jolly-boats, rowed out, and clambered up 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 17 

the ships' ladders. And when the rever- 
berating roll of the fort cannon signalled the 
hour of departure, anchors were weighed, and 
sails, loosened from the creaking yard-arms, 
fluttered and filled to the wind. While the 
landsmen were still cheering and waving a 
farewell, Bering and his followers watched 
the shores slip away, the waters widen, the 
mountains swim past and back. Then the 
St Peter and the St Paul headed out proudly 
to the lazy roll of the ocean. 

Now the savants, of whom Bering carried 
too many with him for his own peace of mind, 
had averred that he had found no Gamaland 
on his first voyage because he had sailed too 
far north. This time he was to voyage south- 
ward for that passage named after Juan de 
Fuca. This would lead him north of Drake's 
New Albion in California, and north of the 
Spanish cruisings about modern Vancouver 
Island. This was to bring him to the mythical 
Gamaland. Bering knew there was no Gama- 
land ; but in the captain's cabin, where the 
savants bent all day over charts, was the map 
of Delisle, the geographer of French Canada, 
showing vast unnamed lands north of the 
Spanish possessions ; and in the expedition 
was a member of the Delisle family. So 

p.p.c. 



i8 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Bering must have known or guessed that an 
empire half the size of Russia lay undiscovered 
north of Juan de Fuca's passage. 

So confident were the members of the ex- 
pedition of reaching land to the east at an 
early date that provisions and water for only 
a few weeks were carried along. Bering had 
a crew of seventy-seven on the St Peter, and 
among the other men of science with him 
was the famous naturalist, George W. Steller. 
Lieutenant Chirikoff sailed the St Paul with 
seventy-six men, and Delisle de la Croyere was 
his most distinguished passenger. As is usual 
during early June in that latitude, driving 
rains and dense fogs came rolling down from 
the north over a choppy sea. The fog turned 
to snow, and the St Paul, far in the lead, came 
about to signal if they should not keep to- 
gether to avoid losing each other in the thick 
weather ; but the St Peter was careening 
dangerously, and shipping thunderous seas 
astern. Bering's laconic signal in answer was 
to keep on south ' to Gamaland ' ; but when 
the fog lifted the St Peter was in latitude 46, 
far below the supposed location of the strait 
of Juan de Fuca, and there was in sight neither 
Gamaland nor the sister ship. The scientists 
with Bering were in such a peevish mood 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 19 

over the utter disproof of their mythical con- 
tinent that they insisted on the commander 
wasting a whole month pottering back and 
forth looking for ChirikofFs ship. By this 
time the weather had become very warm, the 
drinking water very rank, and the provisions 
stale. Finally, the learned men gave decision 
that as the other ship could not be found the 
St Peter might as well turn north. 

Bering had become very depressed, and so 
irritable that he could not tolerate approach. 
If the men of learning had been but wise in 
the dangers of ocean travel, they would have 
recognized in their commander the symptoms 
of the common sea-scourge of the age scurvy. 
Presently, he was too ill to leave his bed, 
and Waxel, who hated all interference and 
threatened to put the scientists in irons or 
throw them overboard, took command. By 
the middle of July passengers and crew were 
reduced to half allowance of bad water. Still, 
there were signs that afforded hope. As the 
ship worked through the fog-blanket north- 
ward, drift-wood and land birds, evidently 
from a land other than Asia, were seen. 

At last came a land wind from the south- 
east, lifting the fog and driving it back to the 
north. And early one morning there were con- 



20 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

fused cries from the deck hands then silence 
then shouts of exultant joy ! Everybody 
rushed above-decks, even the sick in their 
night-robes, among them Bering, wan and 
weak, answering scarce a word to the happy 
clamour about him. Before the sailors' aston- 
ished gaze, in the very early light of that 
northern latitude, lay a turquoise sea a 
shining sheet of water, milky and metallic 
like a mountain tarn, with the bright greens 
and blues of glacial silt ; and looming through 
the primrose clouds of the horizon hung a 
huge opal dome in mid-heaven. At first they 
hardly realized what it meant. Then shouts 
went up ' Land ! ' * Mountains ! ' ' Snow- 
peaks ! ' The St Peter glided forward noise- 
less as a bird on the wing. Inlets and har- 
bours, turquoise-green and silent, opened along 
a jagged, green and alabaster shore. As the 
vessel approached the land the explorers saw 
that the white wall of the inner harbour 
was a rampart of solid ice ; but where the 
shore line extended out between ice and sea 
was a meadow of ferns and flowers abloom 
knee-deep, and grasses waist-high. The spec- 
tators shouted and laughed and cried and 
embraced one another. Russia, too, had 
found a new empire. St Elias they named the 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 21 

great peak that hung like a temple dome of 
marble above the lesser ridges ; but Bering 
only sighed. * We think we have done great 
things, eh ? Well, who knows where this is ? 
We 're almost out of provisions, and not a 
man of us knows which way to sail home.' 

Steller was down the ship's ladder with the 
glee of a schoolboy, and off for the shore 
with fifteen men in one of the row-boats to 
explore. They found the dead ashes of a 
camp-fire on the sands, and some remnants 
of smoked fish ; but any hope that the lost 
ship's crew had camped here was at once dis- 
pelled by the print of moccasined feet in the 
fine sand. Steller found some rude huts 
covered with sea-moss, but no human presence. 
Water-casks were filled; and that relieved a 
pressing need. On July 21, when the wind 
began to blow freshly seaward, Bering ap- 
peared unexpectedly on deck, ashen of hue 
and staggering from weakness, and per- 
emptorily ordered anchors up. Bells were 
rung and gongs beaten to call those ashore 
back to the ship. Steller stormed and swore. 
Was it for this hurried race ashore that he 
had spent years toiling across two continents ? 
He wanted to botanize, to explore, to gather 
data for science ; but the commander had had 



22 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

enough of science. He was sick unto death, 
in body and in soul, sick with the knowledge 
that they were two thousand miles from any 
known port, in a tempestuous sea, on a 
rickety ship manned for the most part by 
land-lubbers. 

As they scudded before the wind, Bering 
found that the shore was trending south to- 
wards the home harbour. They were follow- 
ing that long line of reefed islands, the 
Aleutians, which project out from Alaska 
towards Asia. A roar of reefs through the fog 
warned them off the land ; but one midnight 
of August the lead recorded less than three 
feet of water under the keel. Before there 
was time for panic, a current that rushed 
between rocks threw the vessel into a deep 
pool of backwash ; and there she lay till 
morning. By this time many of the sailors 
were down with scurvy. It became necessary 
to land for fresh water. One man died as he 
was lifted from the decks to the shore. Bering 
could not stand unaided. Twenty emaciated 
sailors were taken out of their berths and 
propped up on the sand. And the water they 
took from this rocky island was brackish, 
and only increased the ravages of the malady. 

From the date of this ill-fated landing, a 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 23 

pall a state of paralysis, of inaction and 
fear seemed to hang over the ship. The 
tide-rip was mistaken for earthquake ; and 
when the lurid glare of volcanic smoke came 
through the fog, the sailors huddled panic- 
stricken below-decks and refused to obey 
orders. Every man became his own master ; 
and if that ever works well on land, it means 
disaster at sea. Thus it has almost always 
been with the inefficient and the misfits who 
have gone out in ships land-lubbers trying 
to be navigators. Just when Bering's crew 
should have braced themselves to resist the 
greatest stress, they collapsed and huddled 
together with bowed heads, inviting the worst 
that fate could do to them. When the tide- 
rip came through the reefs from the north 
along the line of the Aleutian Islands with 
the swiftness of a mill-race, the men had 
literally to be held to the rudder at pistol 
point and beaten up the masts with the flat of 
the officers' swords. But while they skulked, 
a hurricane rolled up the fog ; and the ship 
could but scud under bare poles before the 
wind. Rations were now down to mouldy 
sea-biscuits, and only fifteen casks of water 
remained for three-score men. 

Out of the turmoil of waters and wind along 



24 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

the wave-lashed rocks came the hoarse, shrill, 
strident cry of the sea-lion, the boom and 
snort of the great walrus, the roar of the seal 
rookeries, where millions of cubs wallowed, 
and where bulls lashed themselves in their 
rage and fought for mastery of the herd. By 
November, Waxel alone was holding the 
vessel up to the wind. No more solemn con- 
ferences of self-important, self-willed scien- 
tists filled the commander's cabin ! No more 
solemn conclaves and arguments and counter- 
arguments to induce the commander to sail 
this way and that ! Bedlam reigned above 
and below decks. No man had any thought 
but how to reach home alive. Prayers and 
vows and offerings went up from the decks of 
the St Peter like smoke. The Russians vowed 
themselves to holy lives and stopped swearing. 
To the inexpressible delight of all hands 
the prayers seemed to be heard. On Novem- 
ber 4 the storm abated, and land loomed up 
on the horizon, dim at first, but taking shape 
as the vessel approached it and showing a 
well-defined, rock-bound harbour. Was this 
the home harbour ? The sick crawled on 
hands and knees above the hatchway to 
mumble out their thanks to God for escape 
from doom. A cask of brandy was opened, 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 25 

and tears gave place to gruff, hilarious 
laughter. Every man was ready to swear that 
he recognized this headland, that he had 
known they were following the right course 
after all, and that he had never felt any 
fear at all. 

Barely had the grief become joy, when a 
chill silence fell over the ship. The only 
sounds were the rattling of the rigging against 
the masts, the groaning of the timbers of the 
vessel, and the swish of the waves cut by the 
prow. These were not Kamchatka shores. 
This was only another of the endless island 
reefs they had been chasing since July. The 
tattered sails flapped and beat dismally 
against the cordage. Night fell. There was 
a retributive glee in the whistle of the mock- 
ing wind through the rotten rigging, and the 
ship's timbers groaned to the boom of the 
heavy tide. 

Bering was past caring whether he lived 
or died. Morning revealed a shore of black 
basalt, reef upon reef, like sentinels of death 
saying, ' Come in ! come in ! We are here to 
see that you never go out ' ; and there was a 
nasty clutch to the backwash of the billows 
smashing down from those rocks. 

Waxel called a last council of all hands in 



26 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

the captain's cabin. ' We should go on home,' 
said Bering, rising on his elbow in his berth. 
' It matters not to me. I am past mending ; 
but even if we have only the foremast left and 
one keg of water, let us try for the home 
harbour. A few days must make it. Having 
risked so much, let us risk all to win ! ' As 
they afterwards found, they were only one 
week from Kamchatka ; but they were terri- 
fied at the prospect of any more deep-sea 
wanderings, and when one of the officers 
dared to support Bering's view, they fell on 
him like wild beasts and threw him from 
the cabin. To a man they voted to land. 
That vote was fate's seal to the penalty men 
must pay for their mistakes. 

Above the white fret of reefs precipices 
towered in pinnacles two thousand feet high. 
Through the reefs the doomed ship stole like 
a hunted thing. Only one man kept his head 
clear and his hand to the helm the lieutenant 
whom all the rest had thrown out of the cabin. 
The island seemed absolutely treeless, covered 
only with sedge and shingle and grass. The 
tide began to toss the ship about so that the 
sick were rolled from their berths. Night 
came with a ghostly moonlight silvering the 
fret of a seething sea that seemed to be 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 27 

reaching up white arms for its puny victims. 
The lieutenant threw out an anchor. It 
raked bottom and the cable snapped. The 
crazed crew began throwing the dead over- 
board as an offering to appease the anger of 
the sea. The St Peter swept stern foremost 
full on a reef. Quickly the lieutenant and 
Steller threw out the last anchor. It gripped 
between rocks and held. The tide at mid- 
night had thrown the vessel into a sheltered 
cove. Steller and the lieutenant at once 
rowed ashore to examine their surroundings 
and to take steps to make provision for the 
morrow. They were on what is now known 
as Bering Island. Fortunately, it was literally 
swarming with animal life the great manatee 
or sea-cow in herds on the kelp -beds, blue 
foxes in thousands, the seal rookeries that 
were to make the islands famous ; but there 
was no timber to build houses for wintering in. 
It was a barren island. They could make floors 
of sand, walls of peat, roofs of sea-moss ; but 
what shelter was this against northern gales ? 
By November 8 a rude pit-shelter had been 
constructed to house the invalided crew ; but 
the sudden transition from the putrid hold to 
the open, frosty air caused the death of many 
as they were lowered on stretchers. Amid a 



28 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

heavy snow Bering was wrapped in furs and 
carried ashore. The dauntless Steller faced 
the situation with judgment and courage. He 
acted as doctor, nurse, and hunter, and daily 
brought in meat for the hungry and furs to 
cover the dying. Five pits sheltered the cast- 
aways. When examined in 1885 the walls of 
the pits were still intact three feet of solid 
peat. Clothing of sea-otter skins of priceless 
value, which afterwards proved a fortune to 
those who survived, and food of the flesh of 
the great sea-cow, saved a remnant of the 
wretched crew. During most of the month of 
November the St Peter rode safely at anchor 
while storms thundered around her retreat ; 
but on the 28th her cable snapped beneath a 
hurricane, and she was driven high and dry 
on the shore, a broken wreck. In all thirty- 
one men had perished of scurvy by January 
1742. Among these was the poor old com- 
mander. On the morning of December 8, as 
the wind went moaning round their shelter, 
Steller heard the Dane praying in a low 
voice. And just at daybreak he passed into 
that great, quiet Unknown World whence no 
traveller has returned. 

How the consort ship, the St Paul, found 



VITUS BERING ON THE PACIFIC 29 

her way back to Kamchatka, and how Bering's 
castaways in the spring built themselves a 
raft and mustered their courage to essay the 
voyage home which they ought to have 
attempted in the autumn, are matters for 
more detailed history. But just as Cartier's 
discovery of the St Lawrence led to the 
pursuit of the little beaver across a con- 
tinent, so the Russians' discovery of Alaska 
and the Aleutian Islands led to the pursuit of 
the sea-otter up and down the North Pacific ; 
led the way, indeed, to that contest for world 
supremacy on the Pacific in which the great 
powers of three continents are to-day engaged. 



CHAPTER III 

THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 

CHIRIKOFF'S crew on the St Paul had long since 
returned in safety to Kamchatka, and the 
garrison of the fort on Avacha Bay had given 
up Bering's men as lost for ever, when one 
August morning the sentinel on guard along 
the shore front of Petropavlovsk descried a 
strange apparition approaching across the 
silver surface of an unruffled sea. It was like 
a huge whale, racing, galloping, coming in 
leaps and bounds of flying fins over the water 
towards the fort. The soldier telescoped his 
eyes with his hands and looked again. This 
was no whale. There was a mast pole with a 
limp skin-thing for sail. It was a big, clumsy, 
raft-shaped flat-boat. The oarsmen were row- 
ing like pursued maniacs, rising and falling 
bodily as they pulled. It was this that gave 
the craft the appearance of galloping over the 
water. The soldier called down others to 
look. Some one ran for the commander of the 

80 



THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 31 

fort. What puzzled the onlookers was the 
appearance of the rowers. They did not look 
like human beings ; their hair was long ; their 
beards were unkempt. They were literally 
naked except for breech-clouts and shoulder- 
pieces of fur. Then somebody shouted the un- 
expected tidings that they were the castaways 
of Bering's crew. 

Bugles rang ; the fort drum rumbled a 
muster ; the chapel bells pealed forth ; and 
the whole population of the fort rushed to the 
water-side shouting, gesticulating, laughing, 
crying and welcomed with wild embraces the 
returning castaways. And while men looked 
for this one and that among the two-score 
coming ashore from the raft, and women wept 
for those they did not find, on the outskirts 
of the crowd stood silent observers Chinese 
traders and pedlars from Manchuria, who 
yearly visited Kamchatka to gather pelts for 
the annual great fur fairs held in China. The 
Chinese merchants looked hard ; then nodded 
knowingly to each other, and came furtively 
down amid the groups along the shore front 
and timidly fingered the matted pelts worn 
by the half-naked men. It was incredible. 
Each penniless castaway was wearing the fur 
of the sea-otter, or what the Russians called 



32 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

the sea-beaver, more valuable than seal, and, 
even at that day, rarer than silver fox. Never 
suspecting their value, the castaways had 
brought back a great number of the pelts of 
these animals ; and when the Chinese mer- 
chants paid over the value of these furs in 
gold, the Russians awakened to a realization 
that while Bering had not found a Gamaland, 
he might have stumbled on as great a source 
of wealth as the furs of French Canada or 
the gold-lined temples of Peru. 

The story Bering's men told was that, while 
searching ravenously for food on the barren 
island where they had been cast, they had 
found vast kelp-beds and seaweed marshes, 
where pastured the great manatee known as 
the sea-cow. Its flesh had saved their lives. 
While hunting the sea-cow in the kelp-beds 
and sea-marshes the men had noticed that 
whenever a swashing sea or tide drove the 
shattering spray up the rocks, there would 
come riding in on the storm whole herds of 
another sea denizen thousands upon thou- 
sands of them, so tame that they did not know 
the fear of man, burying their heads in the 
sea-kelp while the storm raged, lifting them 
only to breathe at intervals. This creature 
was six feet long from the tip of its round, 



THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 33 

cat-shaped nose to the end of its stumpy, 
beaver-shaped tail, with fur the colour of 
ebony on the surface, soft seal-colour and grey 
below, and deep as sable. Quite unconscious 
of the worth of the fur, the castaway sailors 
fell on these visitors to the kelp-beds and 
clubbed right and left, for skins to protect 
their nakedness from the biting winter winds. 

It was the news of the sea wealth brought to 
Kamchatka by Bering's men that sent traders 
scurrying to the Aleutian Islands and Alaskan 
shores. Henceforth Siberian merchants were 
to vie with each other in outfitting hunters 
criminals, political exiles, refugees, destitute 
sailors to scour the coasts of America for 
sea-otter. Throughout the long line of the 
Aleutian Islands and the neighbouring coasts 
of North America, for over a century, hunters' 
boats little cockle-shell skiffs made of oiled 
walrus-skin stretched on whalebone frames, 
narrow as a canoe, light as cork rode the 
wildest seas in the wildest storms in pursuit of 
the sea-otter. Sea-otter became to the Pacific 
coast what beaver was to the Atlantic the 
magnet that drew traders to the north-west 
seas, and ultimately led to the settlement of 
the north-west coast. 

It was, to be sure, dangerous work hunting 

P.P.C. C 



34 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

in wild northern gales on rocks slippery with 
ice and through spray that wiped out every 
outline of precipice edge or reef ; but it offered 
variety to exiles in Siberia ; and it offered 
more a chance of wealth if they survived. 
Iron for bolts of boats must be brought all 
the way from Europe ; so the outlaw hunters 
did without iron, and fastened planks together 
as best they could with deer thongs in place 
of nails, and moss and tallow in place of tar. 
In the crazy vessels so constructed they ven- 
tured out from Kamchatka two thousand 
miles across unknown boisterous seas. Once 
they had reached the Aleutians, natives were 
engaged to do the actual hunting under their 
direction. Exiles and criminals could not be 
expected to use gentle methods to attain their 
ends. ' God is high in the heavens and the 
Czar is far away/ they said. The object was 
quick profit, and plundering was the easiest 
way to attain it. How were the Aleutian 
Indians paid ? At first they were not paid 
at all. They were drugged into service with 
vodka, a liquor that put them in a frenzy ; and 
bayoneted and bludgeoned into obedience. 
These methods failing, wives and children were 
seized by the Russians and held in camp 
as hostages to guarantee a big hunt. The 



THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 35 

Aleuts' one object in meeting the Russian 
hunter at all was to get possession of firearms. 
From the time Bering's crew and Chirikoff's 
men had first fired rifles in the presence of 
these poor savages of the North, the Indians 
had realized that ' the stick that thundered ' 
was a weapon they must possess, or see their 
tribe exterminated. 

The brigades of sea-otter hunters far ex- 
ceeded in size and wild daring the platoons of 
beaver hunters, who ranged by pack-horse and 
canoe from Hudson Bay to the Rocky Moun- 
tains. The Russian ship, provisioned for two 
or three years, would moor and draw up ashore 
for the winter on one of the eleven hundred 
Aleutian Islands. Huts would be constructed 
of drift-wood, roofed with sea-moss ; and as 
time went on even rude forts were erected on 
two or three of the islands like Oonalaska 
or Kadiak where the kelp-beds were exten- 
sive and the hunting was good enough to last 
for several years. The Indians would then be 
attracted to the camp by presents of brandy 
and glass beads and gay trinkets and fire- 
arms. Perhaps one thousand Aleut hunters 
would be assembled. Two types of hunting 
boats were used the big ' bidarkie,' carrying 
twenty or thirty men, and the little kayak, a 



36 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

mere cockle-shell. Oiled walrus-skin, stretched 
taut as a drum-head, served as a covering 
for the kayak against the seas, a manhole 
being left in the centre for the paddler to en- 
sconce himself waist-deep, with oilskin round 
his waist to keep the water out. Clothing 
was worn fur side in, oiled s~ide out ; and 
the soles of all moccasins were padded with 
moss to protect the feet from the sharp rocks. 
Armed with clubs, spears, steel gaffs and rifles, 
the hunters would paddle out into the storm. 
There were three types of hunting long 
distance rifle-shooting, which the Russians 
taught the Aleuts ; still hunting in a calm sea ; 
storm hunting on the kelp-beds and rocks as 
the wild tide rode in with its myriad swimmers. 
Rifles could be used only when the wind was 
away from the sea-otter beds and the rocks 
offered good hiding above the sea-swamps. 
This method was sea-otter hunting de luxe. 
Still hunting could only be followed when 
the sea was smooth as glass. The Russian 
schooner would launch out a brigade of cockle- 
shell kayaks on an unruffled stretch of sea, 
which the sea-otter traversed going to and 
from the kelp-beds. While the sea-otter is a 
marine denizen, it must come up to breathe ; 
and if it does not come up frequently of its 



THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 37 

own volition, the gases forming in its body 
bring it to the surface. The little kayaks 
would circle out silent as shadows over the 
silver surface of the sea. A round head would 
bob up, or a bubble show where a swimmer 
was moving below the surface. The kayaks 
would narrow their surrounding circle. Pre- 
sently a head would appear. The hunter 
nearest would deal the death-stroke with his 
steel gaff, and the quarry would be drawn in. 
But it was in the storm hunt over the kelp-beds 
that the wildest work went on. Through the 
fiercest storm scudded bidarkies and kayaks, 
meeting the herds of sea-otter as they drove 
before the gale. To be sure, the bidarkies 
filled and foundered ; the kayaks were ripped 
on the teeth of the rock reefs. But the sea 
took no account of its dead ; neither did the 
Russians. Only the Aleut women and chil- 
dren wept for the loss of the hunters who 
never returned ; and sea-otter hunting de- 
creased the population of the Aleutian Islands 
by thousands. It was as fatal to the Indian 
as to the sea-otter. Two hundred thousand 
sea-otters were taken by the Russians in half 
a century. Kadiak yielded as many as 6000 
pelts in a single year ; Oonalaska, 3000 ; the 
Pribylovs, 5000 ; Sitka used to yield 15,000 a 



38 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

year. To-day there are barely 200 a year 
found from the Commander Islands to Sitka. 
It may be imagined that Russian criminals 
were not easy masters to the simple Aleut 
women and children who were held as hostages 
in camp to guarantee a good hunt. Brandy 
flowed like water, the Czar was far away, and 
it was a land with no law but force. The 
Russian hunters cast conscience and fear to 
the winds. Who could know ? God did not 
seem to see ; and it was two thousand miles to 
the home fort in Kamchatka. When the hunt 
was poor, children were brained with clubbed 
rifles, women knouted to death before the eyes 
of husbands and fathers. In 1745 a whole 
village of Aleuts had poison put in their 
food by the Russians. The men were to 
eat first, and when they perished the women 
and children would be left as slaves to the 
Russians. A Cossack, Pushkareff, brought a 
ship out for the merchant Betshevin in 1762, 
and, in punishment for the murder of several 
brutal members of the crew by the Aleuts, he 
kidnapped twenty-five of their women. Then, 
as storm drove him towards Kamchatka, he 
feared to enter the home port with such 
a damning human cargo. So he promptly 
marooned fourteen victims on a rocky coast, 



THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 39 

and binding the others hand and foot, threw 
them into the sea. The merchant and the 
Cossack were both finally punished by the 
Russian government for the crimes of this 
voyage; but this did not silence the blood 
of the murdered women crying to Heaven for 
vengeance. In September 1762 the criminal 
ship came back to Avacha Bay. In com- 
plete ignorance of the Cossack's diabolical 
conduct, four Russian ships sailed that very 
month for the Aleutian Islands. Since 1741, 
when Bering's sailors had found the kelp-beds, 
Aleuts had hunted the sea-otter and Russians 
had hunted the Aleuts. For three years fate 
reversed the wheel. It was to be a man-hunt 
of fugitive Russians. 

Just before the snow fell in the autumn of 
1763 Alexis Drusenin anchored his ship on 
the north-east corner of Oonalaska, where the 
rocks sprawl out in the sea in five great spurs 
like the fingers of a hand. The spurs are 
separated by tempestuous reef-ribbed seas. 
The Indians were so very friendly that they 
voluntarily placed hostages of good conduct 
in the Russians' hands. Two or three thou- 
sand Aleut hunters came flocking over the 
sea in their kayaks to join the sea-otter 
brigades. On the spur opposite to Drusenin 's 



40 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

anchorage stood an Aleut village of forty 
houses ; on the next spur, ten miles away 
across the sea, was another village of seventy 
people. The Russian captain divided his 
crew, and placed from nine to twelve men in 
each of the villages. With ample firearms 
and enough brandy half a dozen Russians 
could control a thousand Aleuts. Swaggering 
and bullying and loud-voiced and pot-valiant, 
Drusenin and two Cossacks stooped to enter 
a low-thatched Aleut hut. The entrance step 
pitched down into a sort of pit ; and as 
Drusenin stumbled in face foremost a cudgel 
clubbed down on his skull. The Cossack be- 
hind stumbled headlong over the prostrate 
form of his officer ; and in the dark there was 
a flash of long knives such knives as the 
hunters used in skinning their prey. Both 
bodies were cut to fragments. The third man 
seized an axe as the murderers crowded round 
him and beat them back ; he then sought 
safety in flight. There was a hiss of hurtling 
spears thrown after him with terrible deftness. 
With his back pierced in a dozen places, 
drenched in his own blood, the Cossack almost 
tumbled over the prostrate body of a sentinel 
who had been on guard at a house down by the 
ship, and had been wounded by the flying 



THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 41 

spears. A sailor dashed out, a yard-long bear- 
knife in his grasp, and dragged the two men 
inside. Of the dozen Russians stationed here 
only four survived ; and their hut was beset 
by a rabble of Aleuts drunk with vodka, drunk 
with blood, drunk with a frenzy of revenge. 

Cooped up in the hut, the Russians kept 
guard by twos till nightfall, when, dragging a 
bidarkie down to the water, they loaded it 
with provisions and firearms, and pushed out 
in the dark to the moan and heave of an un- 
quiet sea. Though weakened from loss of 
blood, the fugitives rowed with fury for the 
next spur of rock, ten miles away, where they 
hoped to find help. The tide-rip came out 
of the north with angry threat and broke 
against the rocks, but no blink of light shone 
through the dark from the Russian huts 
ashore. The men were afraid to land, and 
afraid not to land. Wind and sea would pre- 
sently crush their frail craft to kindling-wood 
against the rocky shore. 

The Russians sprang out, waded ashore, 
uttered a shout ! Instantly lances and spears 
fell about them like rain. They joined hands 
and ran for the cove where the big schooner 
had been moored. Breathlessly they waited 
for the dawn to discover where their ship lay ; 



42 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

but daylight revealed only the broken wreck- 
age of the vessel along the shore, while all 
about were blood-stains and pieces of cloth- 
ing and mutilated bodies, which told but 
too plainly that the crew had been hacked 
to pieces. There was not a moment to be 
lost. Before the mist could lift, the fugitives 
gathered up some provisions scattered on the 
shore and ran for their lives to the high 
mountains farther inland. And when day- 
light came they scooped a hole in the sand, 
drew a piece of sail-cloth over this, and lay in 
hiding till night. 

From early December to early February the 
Russians hid in the caves of the Oonalaska 
mountains. Clams, shell-fish, sea-birds stayed 
their hunger. It is supposed that they must 
have found shelter in one of the caves where 
there are medicinal hot springs ; otherwise, 
they would have perished of cold. In Feb- 
ruary they succeeded in making a rude boat, 
and in this they set out by night to seek 
the ships of other Russian hunters. For a 
week they rowed out only at night. Then 
they began to row by day. They were seen 
by Indians, and once more sought safety 
in the caves of the mountains, where they 
remained in hiding for five weeks, venturing 



THE OUTLAW HUNTERS 43 

out only at night in search of food. Here, 
snow-water and shell-fish were all they had to 
sustain them ; and again they must build a 
rude raft to escape. Towards the end of 
March they descried a Russian vessel in the 
offing, and at last succeeded in reaching 
friends. 

Almost the same story could be told of the 
crews of each of the ships that had sailed 
from Avacha Bay in September 1762. One 
ship foundered. The castaways were stabbed 
where they lay in exhausted sleep. Every 
member of the crew on a third ship had been 
slain round a bath-house, such as Russian 
hunters built in that climate to enable them 
to ward off rheumatism by vapour plunges. 
One ship only escaped the general butchery 
and carried the refugees home. 

Of course, Cossack and hunter exacted 
terrible vengeance for this massacre. Whole 
villages were burned to the ground and every 
inhabitant sabred. On one occasion, as many 
as three hundred victims were tied in line and 
shot. The result was that the Cossacks' out- 
rages and the Aleuts' vengeance drew the 
attention of the Russian government to this 
lucrative fur trade in the far new land. The 
disorders put an end to free, unrestricted trade. 



44 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Henceforth a hunter must have a licence ; 
and a licence implied the favour of the court. 
The court saw to it that a governor took up 
his residence in the region to enforce justice 
and to compel the hunters to make honest 
returns. Like the Hudson's Bay men, the 
Russian fur traders had to report direct to 
the crown. Thus was inaugurated on the 
west coast of America the Russian regime, 
which ended only in 1867, when Alaska was 
ceded to the United States. 




- 



UJ 



CHAPTER IV 

COOK AND VANCOUVER 

IT was the quest for a passage to the Atlantic 
that brought Captain James Cook to the 
Pacific. Before joining the Royal Navy, 
Cook had been engaged as a captain in the 
Baltic trade ; and from Russian merchant- 
men he had learned all about Bering's voyage 
in the North Pacific, which was being quoted 
by the geographers in proof of an open passage 
north of Alaska. In the Baltic, too, Cook had 
heard about the strait of Juan de Fuca, which 
was supposed to lead through the continent to 
the Atlantic. At this time all England was 
agog with demands that the Hudson's Bay 
Company should find a North- West Passage 
or surrender its charter. Parliament had 
offered a reward of 20,000 to any one dis- 
covering a passage-way to the Pacific, and 
Samuel Hearne had been sent tramping in- 
land to explore the north by land. Curiously 
enough, Cook had been born in 1728, the very 

/ 45 



46 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

year that Bering had set out on his first ex- 
pedition ; and he was in the Baltic when news 
came back to St Petersburg of Bering's death. 
The year 1759 found him at Quebec with 
Wolfe. During the next ten years he ex- 
plored and charted northern and southern 
seas ; and when the British parliament de- 
termined to set at rest for ever the myth of 
a passage, Cook was chosen to conduct the 
expedition. He was granted two ships the 
Resolution and the Discovery; and among 
the crews was a young midshipman named 
Vancouver. The vessels left England in the 
summer of 1776, and sailed from the Sandwich 
Islands in 1778 for Drake's New Albion. The 
orders were to proceed from New Albion up 
to 65 north latitude and search for a passage 
to Hudson Bay. 

On March 7, 1778 two hundred years after 
Drake's famous voyage Cook's ships descried 
thin, sharp lines of land in the offing. As the 
vessels drew nearer the coast towering moun- 
tains met the gaze of the explorers. Cook 
had orders to keep a sharp look-out in this 
region for the strait of Juan de Fuca ; but 
storm drove him off-shore, and, although he 
discovered and named Cape Flattery at the 
entrance to the strait that now bears the name 




JAMES COOK 
From the portrait by Dance in the Gallery of Greenwich Hospital 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 47 

of the old Greek pilot, he did not catch as 
much as a glimpse of the great bay opening 
inland. In fact, he set down that in this 
latitude there was no possibility of Juan de 
Fuca's strait existing. Landing was made on 
Vancouver Island at the famous harbour now 
known as Nootka ; and Indians swarmed the 
sea in gaily painted dug-outs with prows 
carved like totem-poles. Women and children 
were in the canoes. That signified peace ; 
and though cannon were manned in readiness, 
an active and friendly trade at once opened 
between the crews and the natives. Fifteen 
hundred beaver and sea-otter pelts were ex- 
changed for a handful of old nails. At least 
two thousand natives gathered round the two 
ships. Some of the men wore masks and had 
evidently just returned from a raid, for they 
offered Cook human skulls from which the 
flesh had not been removed, and pointed to 
slave captives. 

Any one who knows Vancouver Island in 
spring needs no description of the inspiring 
scene surveyed by the sea -weary crews. 
Snow rested on the coastal mountains. The 
huge opal dome now known as Mount Baker 
loomed up through the clouds of dawn and 
dusk on the southern sky-line. In fair 



48 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

weather the long pink ridge of the Olympics 
could be seen towards Puget Sound. Inland 
from Nootka were vast mountain ridges 
heavily forested to the very clouds with fir 
trees and spruce of incredible size. Lower 
down grew cypress, with gnarled red roots 
entangling the rocks to the very water's edge, 
Spanish moss swinging from branch to branch, 
and partridge drumming in the underbrush. 
For a month the deep-sea travellers enjoyed a 
welcome furlough on shore. One night the 
underbrush surrounding the encampment was 
found to be literally alive with painted 
warriors. Cook demanded an explanation of 
the grand ' tyee ' or chief. The Indian ex- 
plained that these were guards to protect the 
encampment. However that might be, Cook 
deemed it well to be off. 

On May i the ships were skirting the Sitka 
coast, which Chirikoff and Bering had explored 
a quarter of a century previously. St Elias, 
Bering's landfall, was sighted. So was the 
spider - shaped bay now known as Prince 
William Sound. The Indians here resembled 
the Eskimos of Greenland so strongly that 
the hopes of the explorers began to rise. So 
keen were they to prove the existence of a 
passage to the Atlantic that when swords, 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 40 

beads, powder, evidently obtained from white 
traders, were observed among the Indians, 
the Englishmen tried to persuade themselves 
that these Indians must be in communication 
with the Indians of the domain of the Hud- 
son's Bay Company, forgetting that Russians 
had been on the ground for forty years. 
Cook sailed round the coast, past Cape Prince 
of Wales and through Bering Strait, keeping 
his prows northward until an impassable wall 
of ice barred his way. Having now thoroughly 
explored the coast, Cook was satisfied that 
Drake and Bering had been right. There 
was no passage east. He then crossed to 
Siberia, sailed down the Asiatic coast, and 
visited the Aleutian Islands. The Russians 
of Oonalaska and Kamchatka resented the 
English intrusion on their hunting-ground, 
while the English refused to acknowledge 
that they were invading Russian territory. 

It was planned to winter and repair the 
ships at the Sandwich Islands. This part of 
Cook's voyage does not concern Canada. It 
was something like a repetition of the trans- 
gressions of the Russian outlaw hunters, and 
was followed by the penalty that trans- 
gressors pay. The islanders had welcomed 
the white men as demi-gods, but the gods 
P.P.C. n 



50 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

proved to have feet of clay. To the islanders 
a sacred ' taboo ' always existed round the 
burial-graves. Cook permitted his sailors to 
violate this ' taboo ' in order to take timber 
for the repair of his ships. Perhaps it was 
a reaction from almost three years of navy 
discipline; perhaps it was the influence of 
those seductive southern seas ; however that 
may be, the sailors apparently gave them- 
selves up to riotous debauch. The best of the 
islanders withdrew disillusioned, sad, sullen, 
resentful over the violation of their sacred 
burial-places. Only the riff-raff of the natives 
forgathered with the riotous crew. When 
the ships at length set sail with a crew sore- 
headed from dissipation, by way of a climax 
to the debauch, a number of women and 
children were carried along. 

Retribution came swift as sword -stroke. 
The women set up such a wailing that Cook 
stopped the ships to set them ashore. In the 
delay of rowing the boats to land a fierce gale 
sprang up. The wind snapped off the fore- 
mast of the Resolution clean to the decks. 
The two ships had to put back to the harbour 
for repairs. Not a canoe, not a man, not a 
voice, welcomed them. The sailors were 
sullen ; Cook was angry ; and when the white 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 51 

men wanted to trade for fresh food, the 
islanders would take only daggers and knives 
in barter. The white men had stolen from 
their burial-graves. The savages now tried 
to steal from the ships, and on Sunday, 
February 14, they succeeded in carrying off 
the large row-boat of the Discovery. 

Cook landed with a strong bodyguard to 
demand hostages for the return of the lost 
boat. The islanders remembered the kid- 
napping of the women, and refused. Cook 
was foolhardy enough to order his men to 
fire on any canoe trying to escape from the 
harbour. The rest of the episode is so 
familiar that it scarcely needs telling. A chief 
crossing the harbour in a skiff was shot. The 
women were at once hurried off to the hills. 
The men donned their spears and war-mats. 
A stone hurled from the rabble running down 
to the shore struck Cook. Enraged out of all 
self-control, he shot the culprit dead. In 
defence of their commander some marines 
rowing ashore at once fired a musketry volley 
into the horde of islanders. Cook turned his 
back to the thronging savages, now frenzied 
to a delirium, and signalled the marines to 
cease firing. As he did so, a dagger was 
plunged beneath his shoulder-blade. He was 



52 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

hacked to pieces under the eyes of his power- 
less men ; and four soldiers also fell beneath 
the furious onslaught. 

What need to tell of the wild scramble for 
the sea ; of the war-horns blowing all night in 
the dark ; of the camp-fires glimmering from 
the women's retreat in the hills ? By dint of 
threat and show of arms and promises, Captain 
Charles Clerke, who was now in command, 
induced the islanders to deliver the remnants 
of Cook's body. In an impressive silence, 
on Sunday the 2ist of February 1779, the 
coffin containing the great commander's bones 
was committed to the deep. 

The sensational nature of Cook's death, 
within half a century of Bering's equally 
tragic fate, while exploring the same unknown 
seas, spread round the world the fame of the 
exploits of both. It was recalled that Drake 
had claimed New Albion for England two 
centuries before. Then rumours came that 
the Spanish viceroy in Mexico had been follow- 
ing up the discoveries of both Drake and 
Bering. One Bruno Heceta from Monterey 
made report that there were signs of a great 
turbid river cutting the coast-line north of 
Drake's New Albion. In spite of Cook's 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 53 

adverse report, the questions were again 
mooted : Where was Juan de Fuca's strait ? 
Did it lead to Hudson Bay ? Where was 
this Great River of which both the inland 
savages and the Spanish explorers spoke ? 
Quebec had fallen. Scottish fur merchants 
of Montreal had formed the North- West Com- 
pany in opposition to the Hudson's Bay 
Company, and were pushing their traders far 
west towards the Rockies, far north towards 
the Arctic Circle. Who would be first to 
find the great unknown river, to fathom the 
mysteries of Juan de Fuca's strait ? Dream- 
ing of these things up in the Athabaska 
country, Alexander Mackenzie, a trader for 
the Nor'westers, was preparing to push his 
canoes down to the Arctic as a preliminary to 
his greater journey to the Pacific. If Bering's 
crew, if Cook's crew, both sold half-rotted car- 
goes of furs for thousands of pounds, how much 
more easily could trading vessels properly 
equipped reap fortune from the new El Dorado ! 
Inland by canoe from Montreal, overland 
by flat-boat and pack-horse from the Missouri, 
across the continent from Hudson Bay, round 
the world by the Cape and the Horn, across 
the ocean from China it now became a race 
to the Pacific. Greater wealth seemed there 



54 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

in furs than had been found in gold in the 
temples of Peru, or in silver in the mines 
of Mexico. The struggle for control of the 
Pacific, which has culminated in our own day, 
now began. Spain, Russia, England, Canada, 
and the new-born United States were the con- 
testants in the arena. What has reached its 
climax in the sluicing of two oceans together 
at Panama began in the pursuit of sea-otter and 
seal after the voyages of Bering and of Cook. 
The United States had an added motive. 
On the principle of protecting native shipping, 
American ports discriminated against British 
ships, and British ports discriminated against 
American ships. It was absolutely necessary 
to their existence as a nation that the United 
States should build up a merchant fleet. 
Under fostering laws, with the advantages of 
cheap labour and abundant timber, a wonder- 
ful clipper fleet had been constructed in 
Massachusetts and Maryland and Virginia 
ship-yards, consisting of swift sailing-vessels 
suitable for belting the seas in promoting 
commerce and in war. The ship-yards built 
on shares with the merchants, who outfitted 
the cargo. Builders and merchants would 
then divide the profits. Under these con- 
ditions American traders were penetrating 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 55 

almost every sea in the world ; and the 
cargoes brought back built up the substantial 
fortunes of many old Boston families. ' Bos- 
tonnais' these swift new traders were called 
from the Baltic to China. It can be readily 
believed that what they heard of Cook and 
Bering interested the Boston men mightily. 
At all events, they fitted out two ships for the 
Pacific trade ships that were to range the 
seas for the United States as Drake's and 
Cook's had drawn a circle round the world 
for England. Captain John Kendrick com- 
manded the Columbia, Captain Robert Gray 
the Lady Washington, and on one of the 
vessels was a sailor who had been to the North- 
West coast with Cook. In order to secure 
Spain's goodwill, letters were obtained to the 
viceroy of Mexico ; and when, in the course 
of the voyage, these letters were presented to 
the viceroy of Mexico at San Bias, he honoured 
them by at once issuing orders to the presidios 
of Monterey and Santa Barbara and San 
Francisco to arrest both officers and crew if 
the Americans touched at any Spanish port. 
Spain was still dreaming of the Pacific being 
'a closed sea.' She took cognizance of Ber- 
ing's exploits to the north, but she at once 
strove to checkmate an advance south from 



56 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

the north, by herself advancing north from 
the south. It was in 1775 that Heceta had 
observed the turbid entrance to a great river 
and the opening to a strait that might be 
that of Juan de Fuca. However, on Monday, 
October I, 1787, the two American vessels 
sailed away from Boston. It was August 
of 1788 before they were off Drake's New 
Albion ; and in the stormy weather en- 
countered all the way up the Pacific, the little 
sloop Lady Washington had proved a faster, 
better sailer than the heavier cargo vessel, the 
Columbia. Signs of a river were observed ; 
and a pause was made at one of the harbours 
on the coast either Tillamook or Gray's 
Harbour. Here the Indians, indignant at a 
recent outrage committed against them by 
whites, attacked the Americans and drove 
them off before they could search for an 
entrance to the Great River. It now became 
apparent that the small sloop had the advan- 
tage, not only in speed, but because it could 
go in closer to the coast. Towards the end 
of August Gray's crew distinctly observed the 
Olympic mountains and set down record of 
Cape Flattery. ' I am of opinion,' notes the 
mate, ' that the Straits of Juan de Fuca do 
exist ; for the coast takes a great bend here.' 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 57 

At Nootka surprise awaited the Americans. 
John Meares and William Douglas, English 
captains, were there in a palisaded fort and 
with two vessels ; a little trading schooner of 
thirty tons named the North-West America 
had just been built the first ship built on the 
North-West coast and was being launched 
amid thunder of cannon and clinking of 
glasses, and September 19 was observed as 
a holiday the first public holiday in what is 
now British Columbia. Meares and Douglas 
entertained Gray at dinner, and over brim- 
ming wine-glasses gave him the news of recent 
happenings on the coast. Captain Barkley, 
another English trader, had looked into the 
Strait of Juan de Fuca and placed it on his 
chart. Meares had sought in vain for the 
River of the West, and did not believe that 
it existed. In fact, he had named the head- 
land that hid it Cape Disappointment. And, 
of course, no furs existed on the Pacific coast. 
When did a fur trader ever acknowledge to a 
rival that there were furs ? Meares reported 
that he, too, had been down at Tillamook Bay ; 
and Gray guessed that it had been Meares 's 
injustice to the Indians that provoked the 
raid on himself. Meares was short of pro- 
visions, and the Lady Washington needed 



58 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

repairs. The American gave the Englishman 
provisions to reach China, and the Englishman 
repaired the American's ship. Meares de- 
clared that he had bought all Nootka from 
the Indians. He did not relate that he had 
paid only two pocket-pistols and some copper 
for it. Towards the end of September came 
Kendrick on the belated Columbia. Both 
Americans were surprised to learn that half 
a dozen navigators had already gone as 
far north as Nootka Sound. Perez, Heceta, 
Quadra all had coasted Vancouver Island 
for Spain from 1774 to 1779, and so had La 
Perouse, the French explorer, in 1787. Hanna 
had come out from China for furs in 1785. 
In 1787 Portlock and Dixon had secured 
almost two thousand sea-otter skins as far 
north as the Queen Charlotte Islands. These 
were things Meares did not tell the Americans. 
It would have been to acknowledge that an 
abundance of furs was there to draw so many 
trading -ships. But during the winter at 
Nootka the men from Boston learned these 
facts from the Indians. 

The winter was passed in trading with the 
Indians, and spring saw Gray far up the Strait 
of Juan de Fuca. By May I the ships were 
loaded with furs and were about to sail. 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 59 

Meanwhile, what had the Spanish viceroy 
been doing ? Strange that the Spaniards 
should look on complaisantly while English 
traders from China Meares and Hanna and 
Barkley and Douglas were taking possession 
of Nootka. The answer came unexpectedly. 
Just as the * Bostonnais ' were sailing out for a 
last run up the coast, there glided into Nootka 
Sound a proud ship all sails set, twenty 
cannon pointed, Spanish colours spread to 
the breeze. The captain of this vessel, Don 
Joseph Martinez, took a look at the English 
fortifications and another at the Americans. 
The Americans were enemies of England. 
Therefore the pompous don treated them 
royally, presented them with spices and wines, 
and allowed them to depart unmolested. 
When the Americans returned from the run 
up coast, they found the English fort dis- 
mantled, a Spanish fort erected on Hog Island 
at the entrance of the sound, and Douglas's 
ship the companion of Meares's vessel held 
captive by the Spaniard. Gray and Kendrick 
now exchanged ships, and sailed for China 
to dispose of their cargoes of furs and receive 
in exchange cargoes of tea for Boston. The 
whole city of Boston welcomed the Columbia 
home in the autumn of 1790. Fifty thousand 



$0 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

miles she had ploughed through the seas in 
three years. 

In June 1791 Gray was out again on the 
Columbia. This time he went as far north as 
the Portland Canal, past the Queen Charlotte 
Islands, where he met Kendrick on the Lady 
Washington. The quarrel at Nootka between 
the English and the Spaniards was still going 
on ; so this autumn the two * Bostonnais * 
anchored for the winter in Clayoquot Sound 
a place later to be made famous by tragedy 
south of Nootka. Here they built a stock- 
aded fur-post for themselves, which they 
named Fort Defence. During the winter they 
built and launched a little coasting schooner, 
the Adventure. 

Up at Nootka the Spaniard Gonzales de 
Haro had replaced Martinez ; and his country- 
men Quimper and Elisa were daily exploring 
on the east side of Vancouver Island, where 
to this day Spanish names tell of their chart- 
ing. Some of the names, however, were 
afterwards changed. What is to-day known 
as Esquimalt, Quimper called Valdes, and 
Victoria he named Cordoba. Amid much 
firing of muskets and drinking of wine 
Quimper took solemn possession of all this 
territory for Spain. Then, early in August 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 6r 

of 1791, he sailed away for Monterey, while 
Elisa remained at Nootka. 

Gray knew that three English vessels which 
had come from China for furs Colnett's 
Argonaut, Douglas's Iphigenia, and the Prin- 
cess Royal had been seized by the Spanish 
at Nootka. Though the fact had not been 
trumpeted to the world, the Spanish said that 
their pilots had explored these coasts as early 
as 1775 at least three years before Cook's 
landing at Nootka ; so that if first exploration 
counted for possession, Spain had first claim. 
Whether the Spaniards instigated the raid 
that now threatened the rival American fort 
at Clayoquot, the two * Bostonnais ' never 
knew. The Columbia had been beached and 
dismantled. Loop-holes punctured the pali- 
sades of the fort, and cannon were above the 
gates. Sentinels kept constant guard ; but 
what was Gray's horror to learn in February 
1792 that Indians to the number of two 
thousand were in ambush round the fort and 
had bribed a Hawaiian boy to wet the priming 
of the ' Bostonnais ' guns. The fort could 
not be defended against such a number of 
enemies, for there were not twenty men within 
the walls. Gray hastily got the Columbia 
ready for sea. Having stowed in the hold 



62 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

enough provisions to carry them home if flight 
should become necessary, the sailors worked 
in the dark to their necks in water scraping 
the hull free of barnacles, and when the high 
tide came in, she was floated out with all on 
board. On the morning of the 2oth the 
woods were seen to be alive with Indians. 
The Indians had not counted on their prey 
escaping by sea, and an old chief came suavely 
aboard offering Gray sea-otter skins if the 
' Bostonnais ' would go ashore to trade. Gray 
slapped the old rascal across the face ; the 
Indian was over the side at a plunge, and 
the marauders were seen no more. 

In spite of the difficulties and dangers it 
presented, Gray determined to make another 
effort to find the river which old Bruno 
Heceta had sighted in 1775. And early in 
April, after sending his mate north on the 
little vessel Adventure to trade, Gray sailed 
away south on the Columbia. Let us leave 
him for the present stealing furtively along 
the coast from Cape Flattery to Cape Dis- 
appointment. 

It was the spring of 1792. The Spaniard 
Elisa of Nootka had for a year kept his pilot 
Narvaez, in a crazy little schooner crowded 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 63 

with thirty sailors, charting north-east past 
the harbour of Victoria, through Haro Strait, 
following very much the same channel that 
steamers follow to-day as they ply between 
Victoria and Vancouver. East of a high 
island, where holiday folk now have their 
summer camps, Pilot Narvaez came on the 
estuary of a great river, which he called Boca 
de Florida Blanca. This could not be Bruno 
Heceta's river, for this was farther north and 
inland. It was a new river, with wonderful 
purple water the purple of river silt blend- 
ing with ocean blue. The banks were wooded 
to the very water's edge with huge-girthed 
and mossed trees, such as we to-day see in 
Stanley Park, Vancouver. The river swept 
down behind a deep harbour, with forested 
heights between river-mouth and roadstead, 
as if nature had purposely interposed to guard 
this harbour against the deposit of silt borne 
down by the mighty stream. To-day a boule- 
vard rises from the land-locked harbour and 
goes over the heights to the river-mouth like 
the arc of a bow ; the finest residences of the 
Canadian Pacific coast stand there ; and the 
river is lined with mile upon mile of lumber- 
yards and saw-mills. Where the rock pro- 
jects like a hand into the turbid waters stands 



64 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

a crowded city, built like New York on what 
is almost an island. Where the opposite 
shores slope down in a natural park are ris- 
ing the buildings of a great university. The 
ragged starveling crew of Pilot Narvaez had 
found what are now known as Burrard Inlet, 
Vancouver City, Point Grey, Shaughnessy 
Heights, and the Fraser River. The crew 
were presently all ill of scurvy, possibly be- 
cause of the unsanitary crowding, and the 
schooner, almost falling to pieces, came crawl- 
ing back to Nootka. The poor Mexicans 
were utterly unaware that they had discovered 
a gateway for northern empire. Narvaez him- 
self lay almost unconscious in his berth. 
Elisa sent them all home to Mexico on fur- 
lough ; and, on hearing their report, the 
viceroy of Mexico ordered out two ships, the 
Sutil and the Mexicana, Don Galiano and Don 
Valdes in command, to follow up the charting 
of the coast northward from Vancouver Island 
to the Russian settlements. 

Small ringing of bells, no blaring of trumpets 
at all, prayers a-plenty, but little ammuni- 
tion and less food, accompanied the deep-sea 
voyagings of these poor Spanish pilots. When 
Bering set out, he had the power of the whole 
Russian empire behind him. When Cook set 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 65 

out, he had the power of the whole British 
Navy behind him. But when the poor Mexican 
peons set out, they had nothing behind them 
but the branding iron, or slavery in the mines, 
if they failed. Yet they sang as they sailed 
their rickety death-traps, and they laughed 
as they rowed ; and when the tide-rip caught 
them, they sank without a cry to any but the 
Virgin. Look at a map of the west coast 
of the Pacific from the Horn to Sitka. First 
were the Spaniards at every harbour gate ; 
and yet to-day, of all their deep-sea findings 
on that coast, not a rod, not a foot, does Spain 
own. It was, of course, Spain's insane policy 
of keeping the Pacific ' a closed sea ' that 
concealed the achievements of the Mexican 
pilots and buried them in oblivion. But if 
actual accomplishments count, these pilots 
with their ragged peon crews, half-bloods of 
Aztec woman and Spanish adventurer, deserve 
higher rank in the roll of Pacific coast explora- 
tion than history has yet accorded them. 

England, it may be believed, did not calmly 
submit to seeing the ships and forts of her 
traders seized at Nootka. It was not that 
England cared for the value of three vessels 
engaged in foreign trade. Still less did she 

P.P.C. E 



66 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

care for the log-huts dignified by the name of 
a fort. But she was mistress of the seas, and 
had been since the destruction of the Armada. 
And as mistress of the seas, she could not toler- 
ate as much as the seizure of a fishing-smack. 
For some time there were mutterings of war, 
but at length diplomacy prevailed. England 
demanded, among other things, the restoration 
of the buildings and the land, and full repara- 
tion for all losses. Spain decided to submit, 
and accordingly the Nootka Convention was 
signed by the two powers in October 1790. 
Two ships, the Discovery and the Chatham, 
were then fitted out by the British Admiralty 
for an expedition to the Pacific to receive 
formal surrender of the property from Spain, 
and also to chart the whole coast of the 
Pacific from Drake's New Albion to the 
Russian possessions at Sitka. This expedition 
was commanded by Captain George Van- 
couver, who had been on the Pacific with Cook. 
It was April 1792 when Vancouver came up 
abreast of Cape Disappointment. Was it 
chance, or fate, that a gale drove him off-shore 
just two weeks before a rival explorer entered 
the mouth of the great unknown river that 
lay on his vessel's starboard bow ? But for 
this mishap Vancouver might have discovered 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 67 

the Columbia, and England might have made 
good her claim to the territory which is now 
Oregon and Washington and Idaho. Van- 
couver's ships were gliding into the Strait of 
Juan de Fuca when they met a square-hulled, 
trim little trader under the flag of the United 
States. It was the Columbia, commanded by 
Robert Gray. The American told an astound- 
ing story. He had found Bruno Heceta's 
River of the West. Vancouver refused to 
credit the news ; yet there was the ship's log ; 
there were the details landmarks, soundings, 
anchorages for twenty miles up the Columbia 
from its mouth. Gray had, indeed, been up 
the river, and had crossed the bar and come 
out on the Pacific again. 

Vancouver now headed his ships inland and 
proceeded to explore Puget Sound. Never 
before had white men's boats cruised the waters 
of that spider-shaped sea. Every inlet of the 
tortuous coasts was penetrated and surveyed, 
to make certain that no passage to the north- 
east lay through these waters. In June the 
explorers passed up the Strait of Georgia. A 
thick fog hid from them what would have 
proved an important discovery the mouth 
of the Fraser river. Some distance north of 
Burrard Inlet the explorers met the two 



68 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Spanish ships which the viceroy of Mexico 
had sent out, the Sutil and the Mexicana, com- 
manded respectively by Don Galiano and Don 
Valdes. From them Vancouver learned that 
Don Quadra, the Spanish representative, was 
awaiting him at Nootka, prepared to restore 
the forts and property as agreed in the Nootka 
Convention. The vessels continued their jour- 
ney northward and entered Queen Charlotte 
Sound in August. Then, steering into the 
open sea, Vancouver sailed for Nootka to meet 
Spain's official messenger. He had circum- 
navigated Vancouver Island. 

The Nootka controversy had almost caused 
a European war. Now it ended in what 
has a resemblance to a comic opera. Van- 
couver found the Spaniards occupying a fort 
on an island at the mouth of the harbour. 
On the main shore stood the Indian village 
of Chief Maquinna. A Spanish pilot guided 
the English ship to mooring. The Spanish 
frigates fairly bristled with cannon. An 
English officer dressed in regimentals marched 
to the Spanish fort and presented Captain 
Vancouver's compliments to Don Quadra. 
Spanish cannon thundered a welcome that 
shook the hills, and English guns made answer. 
A curious fashion, to waste good powder with- 




CALLICUM AND MAQUINNA, CHIEFS OF NOOTKA SOUND 
From Meares's Voyages 



COOK AND VANCOUVER 69 

out taking aim at each other, thought Chief 
Maquinna. Don Quadra breakfasted Captain 
Vancouver. Captain Vancouver wined and 
dined Don Quadra ; and Maquinna, lord of 
the wilds, attended the feast dressed Indian 
fashion. But when the Spanish don and the 
English officer took breath from flow of com- 
pliments and wine, they did not seem to arrive 
anywhere in their negotiations. Vancouver 
held that Spain must relinquish the site of 
Meares's fort and the territory surrounding it 
and Port Cox. Don Quadra held that he 
had been instructed to relinquish only the 
land on which the fort stood according to 
Vancouver, * but little more than one hundred 
yards in extent any way.' No understand- 
ing could be arrived at, and Quadra at the 
end of September took his departure for 
Monterey, leaving Vancouver to follow a few 
days later. 

Vancouver was anxious to be off on further 
exploration. He was eager to verify the exist- 
ence of the river which Gray had reported. 
He spent most of October exploring this river. 
Explorers in that day, as in this, were not fair 
judges of each other's feats. Vancouver took 
possession of the Columbia river region for 
England, setting down in his narrative that 



70 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

' no other civilized nation or state had ever 
entered this river before ... it does not 
appear that Mr Gray either saw or was ever 
within five leagues of the entrance.' 

Vancouver then visited the presidio at San 
Francisco, and thence proceeded to Monterey, 
where Quadra awaited him. His lieutenant, 
Broughton, who had been in charge of the 
boats that explored the Columbia, here left 
him and accompanied Quadra to San Bias, 
whence he went overland to the Atlantic and 
sailed for England, bearing dispatches to the 
government. Vancouver spent yet another 
year on the North Pacific, corroborating his 
first year's charting and proving that no north- 
east passage through the continent existed. 
Portland Canal, Jervis Inlet, Cook Inlet, 
Prince William Sound, Lynn Canal all were 
traced to head-waters by Vancouver. 

The curtain then drops on the exploration 
of the North Pacific, with Spain jealously 
holding all south of the Columbia, Russia 
jealously holding all north of Sitka, and 
England and the United States advancing 
counter-claims for all the territory between. 




GEORGE VANCOUVER 

From a painting in the National Portrait Gallery, London 



CHAPTER V 

ALEXANDER MACKENZIE, FROM CANADA, 
BY LAND' 

THE movement of the fur traders towards the 
Pacific now became a fevered race for the 
wealth of a new El Dorado. Aster's traders 
in New York, the Scottish and English 
merchants of the North-West Company in 
Montreal, the Spanish traders of the South- 
West, even the directors of the sleepy old 
Hudson's Bay Company all turned longing 
eyes to that Pacific north-west coast whence 
came sea-otter skins in trade, each for a few 
pennies' worth of beads, powder, or old iron. 
Rumours, too, were rife of the great wealth 
of the seal rookeries, and the seal proved as 
powerful a magnet to draw the fur traders as 
the little beaver, the pursuit of which had led 
them into frozen wilds. 

Up in the Athabaska country, eating his 
heart out with chagrin because his associates 
in the North-West Company of Montreal had 

Tl 



72 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

ignored his voyage of discovery down the 
Mackenzie river to the Arctic in I789, 1 the 
young trader Alexander Mackenzie heard 
these rumours of new wealth in furs on the 
Pacific. Who would be the first overland to 
that western sea ? If Spaniard and Russian 
had tapped the source of wealth from the 
ocean side, why could not the Nor'westers 
cross the mountains and secure the furs from 
the land side ? Mackenzie had heard, too, of 
the fabled great River of the West. Could 
he but catch the swish of its upper current, 
what would hinder him floating down it to 
the sea ? Mackenzie thought and thought, 
and paced his quarters up at Fort Chipewyan, 
on Lake Athabaska, till his mind became so 
filled with the idea of an overland journey to 
the Pacific that he could not sleep or rest. He 
had felt himself handicapped by lack of know- 
ledge of astronomy and surveying when on 
the voyage to the Arctic, so he asked leave of 
absence from his company, came down by 
canoe to Montreal, and sailed for England to 
spend the winter studying in London. Here, 
everything was in a ferment over the voyages 
of Cook and Hanna and Meares, over the 

1 See another volume of this Series, Adventurers of the Far 
North, chap. iii. 



< FROM CANADA, BY LAND ' 73 

seizure of British trading-ships by the viceroy 
of Mexico, over the Admiralty's plans to send 
Vancouver out to complete Cook's explora- 
tions. The rumours were as fuel to the flame 
that burned in Mackenzie. The spring of 
1792 saw him hurrying back to Fort Chipe- 
wyan to prepare for the expedition on which 
he had set his heart. When October came he 
launched his canoes, fully manned and pro- 
visioned, on Lake Athabaska, and, ascending 
the Peace river to a point about six miles 
above the forks formed by its junction with 
the Smoky, he built a rude palisaded fur-post 
and spent the winter there. 

Spring came and found Mackenzie ready to 
go forward into the unknown regions of the 
west, regions as yet untrodden by the feet of 
white men. Alexander Mackay, one of the 
most resolute and capable traders in the 
service of the North-West Company, was to 
be his companion on the journey ; and with 
them were to go six picked French-Canadian 
voyageurs and two Indians as guides. They 
had built a birch-bark canoe of exceptional 
strength and lightness. It was twenty-five 
feet long, some four feet in beam, twenty-six 
inches deep, and had a carrying capacity of 
three thousand pounds. Explorers and canoe- 



74 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

men stepped into their light craft on the even- 
ing of May 9, 1793. The fort fired guns and 
waved farewell ; the paddlers struck up a 
voyageurs' song ; and the blades dipped in 
rhythmic time. Mackenzie waved his hat 
back to the group in front of the fort gate ; 
and then with set face headed his canoe west- 
ward for the Pacific. 

Recall what was happening now out on the 
Pacific ! Robert Gray was heading home to 
Boston with news of the discovery of the 
great river. Vancouver was back from San 
Francisco carefully charting the inner channel 
of the coast. Baranoff, the little czar of the 
Russian traders, was coasting at the head 
of fifteen hundred ' bidarkies ' between the 
Aleutians and Sitka ; and Spain was still 
sending out ragged pilots to chart the seas 
which she had not the marine to hold. 

The big canoe went on, up the Peace river. 
Spring thaw brought the waters down from 
the mountains in turbulent floods, and the 
precipices narrowed on each side till the 
current became a foaming cascade. It was 
one thing to float down-stream with brigades 
of singing voyageurs and cargoes of furs in 
spring ; it was a different matter to breast the 
full force of these torrents with only ten men 



< FROM CANADA, BY LAND ' 75 

to paddle. In the big brigades the men 
paddled in relays. In this canoe each man 
was expected to pole and paddle continu- 
ously and fiercely against a current that was 
like a mill-race. Mackenzie listened to the 
grumblers over the night camp-fire, and ex- 
plained how much safer it was to ascend an 
unknown stream with bad rapids than to 
run down it. The danger could always be 
seen before running into it. He cheered the 
drooping spirits of his band, and inspired 
them with some of his own indomitable 
courage. 

By May 16 the river had narrowed to a 
foaming cataract ; and the banks were such 
sheer rock-wall that it was almost impossible 
to land. They had arrived at the Rocky 
Mountain Portage, as it was afterwards called. 
It was clear that the current could not be 
stemmed by pole or paddle ; the canoe must 
be towed or carried. When Mackenzie tried 
to get foothold or handhold on the shore, 
huge boulders and land-slides of loose earth 
slithered down, threatening to smash canoe 
and canoemen. Mackenzie got out a tow- 
line eighty feet long. This he tied to the 
port thwart of the canoe. With the tow-line 
round his shoulders, while the torrent roared 



76 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

past and filled the canyon with the * voice of 
many waters,' Mackenzie leaped to the danger- 
ous slope, cut foothold and handhold on the 
face of the cliff with an axe, and scrambled 
up to a table of level rock. Then he shouted 
and signalled for his men to come up. If the 
voyageurs had not been hemmed in by a 
boiling maelstrom on both sides, they would 
have deserted on the spot. Mackenzie saw 
them begin to strip as if to swim ; then, 
clothes on back and barefoot, they scrambled 
up the treacherous shore. He reached over, 
and assisted them to the level ground above. 
The tow-line was drawn taut round trees and 
the canoe tracked up the raging current. 
But the rapids became wilder. A great wave 
struck the bow of the canoe and the tow-line 
snapped in mid-air. The terrified men look- 
ing over the edge of the precipice saw their 
craft sidle as if to swamp ; but, on the instant, 
another mighty wave flung her ashore, and 
they were able to haul her out of danger. 

Mackay went ahead to see how far the 
rapids extended. He found that they were 
at least nine miles in length. On his return 
the men were declaring that they would not 
ascend such waters another rod. Mackenzie, 
to humour them, left them to a regale of rum 



'FROM CANADA, BY LAND 1 77 

and pemmican, and axe in hand went up the 
precipitous slope, and began to make a rough 
path through the forest. Up the rude incline 
the men hauled the empty canoe, cutting 
their way as they advanced. Then they 
carried up the provisions in ninety-pound 
bundles. By nightfall of the first day they 
had advanced but one mile. Next morning 
the journey was continued ; the progress 
was exactly three miles the second day, and 
the men fell in their tracks with exhaustion, 
and slept that night where they lay. But 
at length they had passed the rapids ; the 
toilsome portage was over, and the canoe was 
again launched on the stream. The air was 
icy from the snows of the mountain-peaks, 
and in spite of their severe exercise the men 
had to wear heavy clothing. 

On May 31 they arrived at the confluence 
where the rivers now known as the Finlay and 
the Parsnip, flowing together, form the Peace. 
The Indians of this region told Mackenzie of 
a great river beyond the big mountains, a river 
that flowed towards the noonday sun ; and 
of ' Carrier Indians ' l inland, who acted as 

1 The Takulli. This tribe cremated the dead, and the widows 
collected the ashes of their dead husbands and carried them 
during 1 a period of three years : hence the name ' Carriers.' 



78 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

middlemen and traders between the coast and 
the mountain tribes. They said that the 
Carriers told legends of 'white men on the 
coast, who wore armour from head to heel ' 
undoubtedly the Spanish dons and of ' huge 
canoes with sails like clouds ' that plied up and 
down ' the stinking waters ' meaning the sea. 
Mackenzie was uncertain which of the two 
confluents to follow whether to ascend the 
Finlay, flowing from the north-west, or the 
Parsnip, flowing from the south-east. He 
consulted his Indian guides, one of whom 
advised him to take the southern branch. 
This would lead, the guide said, to a lake 
from which they could portage to another 
stream, and so reach the great river leading 
to the sea. Mackenzie decided to follow this 
advice, and ordered his men to proceed up the 
Parsnip. Their hearts sank. They had toiled 
up one terrible river ; directly before them 
was another, equally precipitous and danger- 
ous. Nevertheless, they began the ascent. 
For a week the rush of avalanches from the 
mountain-peaks could be heard like artillery 
fire. Far up above the cloud-line they could 
see the snow tumbling over an upper pre- 
cipice in powdery wind-blown cataracts ; a 
minute later would come the thunderous 



'FROM CANADA, BY LAND' 79 

rumble of the falling masses. With heroic 
fortitude the voyageurs held their way against 
the fierce current, sometimes paddling, some- 
times towing the canoe along the river-bank. 
Once, however, when Mackenzie and Mackay 
had gone ahead on foot to reconnoitre, order- 
ing the canoemen to paddle along behind, 
the canoe failed to follow. Mackay went 
back and found the voyageurs disputing 
ashore. They pretended that a leak had 
delayed them. From Indians met by the 
way, Mackenzie learned that he was indeed 
approaching a portage over the height-of- 
land to the waters that flowed towards the 
Pacific. One of these Indians was induced to 
go with Mackenzie as guide. They tramped 
ahead through a thicket of brush, and came 
suddenly out on a blue tarn. This was the 
source of the Parsnip, the southern branch 
of the Peace. The whole party arrived on 
June 12. A portage of 817 paces over a rocky 
ridge brought them to a second mountain lake 
drained by a river that flowed towards the 
west. Mackenzie had crossed the watershed, 
the Great Divide, and had reached the waters 
which empty into the Pacific. 

The river which the explorers now entered 
was a small tributary of the Fraser. Some 



8o PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

years later it was named by Simon Fraser the 
Bad River, and it deserved the name. Mac- 
kenzie launched his canoe down-stream. The 
men's spirits rose. This was working with 
the current, not against it ; but the danger 
of going with an unknown current became 
at once apparent. The banks began to skim 
past, the waters to rise in oily corrugations ; 
and before the voyageurs realized it, they 
were caught by a current they could not stem 
and were hurried sidling down-stream. The 
men sprang out to swim, but the current pre- 
vented them from reaching land, and they 
clung in terror to the sides of the canoe till an 
eddy sent them on a sand-bar in the midst of 
the rapids. With great difficulty the craft was 
rescued and brought ashore. The stern had 
been torn out of the canoe, half the powder and 
bullets lost, and the entire cargo drenched. 

The men were panic-stricken and on the 
verge of mutiny ; but Mackenzie was un- 
daunted and determined to go forward. He 
spread the provisions out to dry and set his 
crew to work patching up the stern of the 
broken canoe with resin and oilcloth and new 
cedar lining. That night the mountain Indian 
who had acted as guide across the portage 
gave Mackenzie the slip and escaped in the 

'. 



< FROM CANADA, BY LAND > 81 

woods. For several days after this most of 
the party trudged on foot carrying the cargo, 
while four of the most experienced canoemen 
brought the empty canoe down the rapids. 
But on June 17 they found further progress 
by water impossible owing to masses of drift- 
wood in the stream. They were now, how- 
ever, less than a mile from the south fork 
of the Fraser ; the men carried the canoe on 
their shoulders across the intervening neck of 
swamp, and at last the explorers * enjoyed the 
inexpressible satisfaction ' of finding them- 
selves on the banks of a broad, navigable 
river, on the west side of the Great Divide. 

The point where they embarked, on the 
morning of June 18, was about thirty-five 
miles above the Nechaco, or north fork of the 
Fraser, just at the upper end of the great 
bend where the south fork, flowing to the 
north-west, sweeps round in a semicircle, joins 
its confluent, and pours southward to the 
sea. This trend of the river to the south was 
not what Mackenzie expected. He wanted 
to follow a stream leading west. Without 
noticing it, he had passed the north fork, the 
Nechaco, and was sweeping down the main 
stream of the Fraser, where towering moun- 
tains cut off the view ahead, and the powerful 



82 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

rush of the waters foreboded hard going, if 
not more rapids and cataracts. Mackenzie 
must have a new guide. The Carrier Indians 
dwelt along this river, but they appeared to 
be truculently hostile. On June 21 a party of 
these Indians stood on one of the banks and 
shot arrows at the explorers and rolled stones 
from the precipices. Mackenzie landed on the 
opposite bank, after sending a hunter by a wide 
detour through the woods behind the Indians 
on the other shore, with orders to shoot in- 
stantly if the savages threatened either the 
canoe or himself. In full sight of the Indians 
Mackenzie threw trinkets in profusion on the 
ground; laid down his musket and pistol, and 
held up his arms in token of friendship. The 
savages understood the meaning of his actions. 
Two of them jumped into a dug-out and came 
poling across to him. Suspiciously and very 
timidly they landed. Mackenzie threw him- 
self on the ground, and on the sands traced his 
path through the ' shining mountains.' By 
Indian sign-language he told them he wanted 
to go to the sea ; and, disarmed of all suspicion, 
the Indians were presently on the ground 
beside him, drawing the trail to the sea. 
Terrible rapids (they imitated t*ie noise of 
the cataracts) barred his way by this river. 



' FROM CANADA, BY LAND ' 83 

He must turn back to where another river 
(the Blackwater) came in on the west, and 
ascend that stream to a portage which would 
lead over to the sea. 

The post of Alexandria on the Cariboo 
Road marks Mackenzie's farthest south on 
the Fraser. At this point, after learning all 
he could of the route from the Indians, he 
turned the prow of his canoe up the river. 
The Carrier Indians provided him with a 
guide. On July 4, nearly two months from 
the time of leaving the fort on the Peace river, 
the portage on the Blackwater was reached ; 
the canoe was abandoned, some provisions 
were cached, and each man set off afoot with 
a ninety-pound pack on his back. Heavy 
mist lay on the thick forest. The Indian trail 
was but a dimly defined track over forest 
mould. The dripping underbrush that skirted 
the path soaked the men to the skin. The 
guide had shown an inclination to desert, and 
Mackenzie slept beside him, ready to seize 
and hold him on the slightest movement. 
Totem cedar- poles in front of the Indian 
villages told the explorers that they were 
approaching the home of the coastal tribes. 
The men's clothing was by this time torn 
to shreds. They were barefooted, bareheaded, 



84 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

almost naked. For nearly two weeks they 
journeyed on foot ; then, having forded the 
Dean river, they embarked for the sea on the 
Bella Coola in cedar dug-outs which they pro- 
cured from Indians of one of the coastal 
tribes. Daily now Mackenzie saw signs of 
white traders. The Indians possessed beads 
and trinkets. One Indian had a Spanish or 
Russian lance. Fishing weirs were, passed. 
There was a whiff of salt water in the air ; 
then far out between the hills lay a gap of 
illimitable blue. At eight o'clock in the 
morning of Saturday, July 20, 1793, Mackenzie 
reached the mouth of the river and found him- 
self on the sea. The next day he went down 
North Bentinck Arm, and, passing the en- 
trance to the south arm, landed at the cape on 
the opposite shore. He then proceeded down 
Burke Channel. It was near the mouth of 
this inlet that he inscribed, in red letters on a 
large rock, the memorable words : ' Alexander 
Mackenzie, from Canada, by land, the twenty- 
second of July, one thousand seven hundred and 
ninety-three. Lat. 52 20' 48" N.' 

Barely two months previously Vancouver 
had explored and named these very waters and 
headlands. A hostile old Indian explained 
bellicosely that the white sailors had fired 



'FROM CANADA, BY LAND' 85 

upon him. For this outrage he demanded 
satisfaction in gifts from Mackenzie. Few 
gifts had Mackenzie for the aggressive old 
chief. There were exactly twenty pounds of 
pemmican two pounds a man for a three 
months' trip back. There remained also 
fifteen pounds of rice the mainstay of the 
voyageurs and six pounds of mouldy flour. 
The Indians proved so vociferously hostile 
that two voyageurs had to stand guard while 
the others slept on the bare rocks. On one 
occasion savages in dug-outs began hurling 
spears. But no harm resulted from these un- 
friendly demonstrations, and the party of ex- 
plorers presently set out on their homeward 
journey. 

Mackenzie had accomplished his object. In 
the race to the Pacific overland he was the 
first of the explorers of North America to cross 
the continent and reach the ocean. Late in 
August the voyageurs were back at the little 
fort on the Peace river. Mackenzie shortly 
afterwards quitted the fur country and retired 
to Scotland, where he wrote the story of his 
explorations. His book appeared in 1801, 
and in the following year he was knighted by 
the king for his great achievements. 



CHAPTER VI 

THE DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER 

AMERICAN traders were not slow to follow 
up the discovery of Robert Gray on the 
Pacific. Spain, the pioneer pathfinder, had 
ceded Louisiana to France ; and France, by 
way of checkmating British advance in North 
America, had sold Louisiana to the United 
States for fifteen million dollars. What did 
Louisiana include ? Certainly, from New 
Orleans to the Missouri. Did it also include 
from the Missouri to Gray's river, the Col- 
umbia ? The United States had sent Meri- 
wether Lewis and William Clark overland 
from the Missouri to the Columbia, ostensibly 
on a scientific expedition, but in reality to lay 
claim to the new territory for the United 
States. This brings the exploration of the 
Pacific down to 1806. 

Take a look at the map ! Mackenzie had 
crossed overland from the Peace river to Bella 
Coola. Who was to own the great belt of 



S3 



DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER 87 

empire a third larger than Germany be- 
tween Mackenzie's trail westward and Lewis 
and Clark's trail to the mouth of the Columbia? 
In 1805 Simon Fraser, who as a child had 
come from the United States to Canada with 
his widowed mother in the Loyalist migration, 
and now in his thirtieth year was a partner in 
the North-West Company of Montreal, had 
crossed the Rockies by way of the Peace river. 
He had followed Mackenzie's trail over the 
terrible nine-mile carrying-place and had built 
there a fur-post Rocky Mountain Portage. 
He had ascended that same Parsnip river, 
which Mackenzie had found so appalling, to a 
little emerald lake set like a jewel in the 
mountains. There he had built another fur- 
trading post, and named it after his friend, 
Archibald Norman M'Leod. This was the 
first fur-post known to have been erected in 
the interior of New Caledonia, now British 
Columbia. The new fort had been left in 
charge of James M'Dougall ; and during the 
winter of 1806 M'Dougall had crossed the 
heavily drifted carrying-place and descended 
the Bad River as far as the south fork of the 
Fraser, which all traders at that time mistook 
for the upper reaches of Gray's Columbia. In- 
stead of going down the main stream of the 



88 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Fraser, M'Dougall ascended both the Nechaco 
and the Stuart ; and if he did not actually 
behold the beautiful alpine tarns since known 
as Fraser Lake and Stuart Lake, he was at 
least the first white man to hear of them. 

In May of 1806, after sending the year's 
furs from Rocky Mountain Portage east 
to Fort Chipewyan, Simon Fraser set out to 
explore this inland empire concerning which 
M'Dougall had reported. John Stuart accom- 
panied Fraser as lieutenant. They crossed 
from the head-waters of the Parsnip to the 
south fork of the Fraser, and on June 10 
camped at the mouth of the Nechaco. To- 
wards the end of July the Carriers camped on 
Stuart Lake were amazed to see advancing 
across the waters, with rhythmic gallop of 
paddles, two enormous birch canoes. When 
the canoes reached the land Fraser and Stuart 
stepped ashore, and a volley was fired to 
celebrate the formal taking possession of a 
new inland empire. What to do with the 
white men's offerings of tobacco the Carriers 
did not know. They thought the white men 
in smoking were emitting spirits with each 
breath. When the traders offered soap to 
the squaws, the women at once began to de- 
vour it. The result was a frothing at the 



DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER 89 

mouth as amazing to them as the smoke from 
the men. History does not record whether 
the women became as addicted to soap as the 
men to the fragrant weed. 

Active trading with the Indians began at 
once. The lake was named Stuart in honour 
of Fraser's companion, and the ground was 
cleared for a palisaded fort, which, when 
erected, they named Fort St James. The 
scene was enchanting. The lake wound for a 
distance of fifty miles amid the foot-hills of 
the mighty forested mountains. It was four 
or five miles wide, and was gemmed with green 
islets; and all round, appearing through the 
clouds in jagged outline, were the opal sum- 
mits of the snowy peaks. No wonder the two 
Scotsmen named the new inland empire New 
Caledonia after their native land. 

It will be remembered that M'Dougall had 
heard of another mountain tarn. This was 
forty miles south of Stuart Lake, at the head- 
waters of the Nechaco, the north fork of the 
Fraser. Stuart went overland south to spy 
out the southern lake ; and his report was of 
such an entrancing region heavily forested, 
with an abundance of game and fish that 
Fraser glided down the Stuart river and poled 
up the Nechaco to the lake which Stuart had 



90 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

already named after his chief. Again a fort 
was erected and named Fort Fraser, making 
three forts in the interior of New Caledonia. 

Fraser had sent a request to the directors of 
the North- West Company to be permitted to 
fit out an expedition down the great river, 
which he thought was the Columbia ; and in 
the spring of 1807 two canoes under Jules 
Quesnel were sent out with goods. Quesnel 
arrived at Fort St James in the autumn, 
bringing from the east the alarming word that 
Lewis and Clark had gone overland and taken 
possession of all the territory between the 
Missouri and the mouth of the Columbia. No 
time was to be lost by Fraser in establishing a 
claim to the region to the west of the Rockies 
between the Peace and the Columbia. Fraser 
went down the river and strengthened British 
possession by building a fourth fort Fort 
George at the mouth of the Nechaco. This 
was to be the starting-point of the expedition 
to the Pacific. Then, towards the end of May 
1808, he set out down the great river with 
four canoes, nineteen voyageurs, and Stuart 
and Quesnel as first assistants. 

Fifteen miles below the fort the river 
walls narrowed and the canoes swept into 
the roaring cataract of Fort George canyon. 




SIMON FRASER 
After the portrait in the Parliament Buildings, Victoria, B.C. 



DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER 91 

The next day they shot through the Cotton- 
wood canyon, and paused at the point thence- 
forth to be known as Quesnel. On the third 
day they passed Mackenzie's farthest south 
the site of the present Alexandria. Below 
this the river was unexplored and unknown. 
Suddenly the enormous flood-waters swollen 
by melting mountain snows contracted to a 
width of only forty yards, and with a fear- 
ful roar swept into a rock-walled gorge. In 
sublime unconsciousness of heroism Fraser 
records : 

As it was impossible to carry the canoes 
across the land owing to the height of the 
steep hills, we resolved to venture down. 
I ordered the five best men of the crews 
into a canoe lightly loaded ; and in a 
moment it was under way. After passing 
the first cascade she lost her head and was 
drawn into an eddy, where she was whirled 
about, in suspense whether to sink or 
swim. However, she took a turn from 
this vortex, flying from one danger to 
another ; but, in spite of every effort, the 
whirlpool forced her against a low rock. 
Upon this the men scrambled out, saving 
their lives ; but the greatest difficulty was 



92 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

still ahead. To continue by water would 
be certain destruction. During this dis- 
tressing scene we were on shore looking 
on ; but the situation rendered our ap- 
proach perilous. The bank was high and 
steep. We had to plunge our daggers 
into the ground to avoid sliding into the 
river. We cut steps, fastened a line to 
the front of the canoe, and hauled it 
up. Our lives hung upon a thread, as 
one false step might have hurled us into 
eternity. However, we cleared the bank 
before dark. The men had to ascend 
the immense hills with heavy loads on 
their backs. 

Indians warned the white men to desist 
from their undertaking. Better, they advised, 
go overland eastward to a great peaceful 
river and descend that to the sea. Fraser, 
of course, did not know that the peaceful 
river they spoke of was really the Columbia. 
He thought the river he was following was 
the Columbia. With the help of Indians 
the canoes were pulled up-hill, and horses 
were hired from them to carry the provisions 
overland. Below this portage, as they con- 
tinued the descent, an enormous crag spread 



DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER 93 

across the river, appearing at first to bar the 
passage ahoad. This was Bar Rock. Be- 
yond it several minor rapids were passed with- 
out difficulty; and then they came upon a 
series of great whirlpools which seemed im- 
passable. But the men unloaded the canoes 
and ' a desperate undertaking ' ran them 
down the rapids with light ballast. They 
then came back overland for the packs. 

This task [says Fraser] was as dangerous 
as going by water. The men passed and 
repassed a declivity, on loose stones and 
gravel, which constantly gave way under 
foot. One man, who lost the path, got 
in a most intricate and perilous position. 
With a large package on his back, he got so 
wedged amid the rocks that he could move 
neither forward nor backward, nor yet 
unload himself. I crawled, not without 
great risk, to his assistance, and saved his 
life by cutting his pack so [that] it dropped 
back in the river. On this carrying-place, 
which was two miles long, our shoes be- 
came shattered. 

For several days after this the advance was 
by a succession of rapids and portages. On 
June 9 the stream again narrowed to forty 



94 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

yards and swept violently betweer two over- 
hanging precipices. 

The water, which rolls down this passage 
in tumultuous waves and with great 
velocity, had a frightful appearance. How- 
ever, it being absolutely impossible to 
carry canoes by land, all hands without 
hesitation embarked on the mercy of the 
awful tide. Once on the water, the die 
was cast ; and the difficulty consisted in 
keeping the canoes clear of the precipice 
on one side and clear of the gulfs formed 
by the waves on the other. Thus skim- 
ming along as fast as lightning, the crews, 
cool and determined, followed each other 
in awful silence ; and when we arrived at 
the end, we stood gazing at each other in 
silent congratulation on our narrow escape 
from total destruction. After breathing a 
little, we continued our course to the point 
where the Indians camped. 

The natives here warned Fraser that it would 
be madness to go forward. At the same time 
they furnished him with a guide. The same 
evening the party reached the place described 
by Fraser as ' a continual series of cascades 
cut by rocks and bounded by precipices that 



DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER 95 

seemed to have no end.' Never had he seen 
' anything so dreary and dangerous.' Tower- 
ing above were ' mountains upon mountains 
whose summits are covered with eternal 
snow.' An examination of the river for some 
distance below convinced Fraser that it was 
impossible of navigation, and he decided to 
make the remainder of the journey on foot. 
After building a scaffold, on which the canoes 
and some provisions were placed and covered 
with underbrush and moss, the party, on June 
n, began their tramp down the river-bank. 
Each man carried on his back a ninety-pound 
pack, supported by a strap across the forehead. 
Again and again on the journey Indians con- 
fronted Fraser with hostile show of weapons, 
but the intrepid trader disarmed hostility by 
gifts. The Indians declared that the sea lay 
only ten * sleeps ' distant. One of the chiefs 
said that he had himself seen white men, who 
were great * tyees,' because ' they were well 
dressed and very proud and went about this 
way ' clapping his hands to his hips and 
strutting about with an air of vast import- 
ance. The Indians told Fraser of another 
great river that came in from the east and 
joined this one some distance below. He had 
passed the site of the present Lillooet and was 



96 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

approaching the confluence of the Thompson 
with the Fraser. Farther down European 
articles were seen among the Indians. It 
was the fishing season, and the tribes had 
assembled in great hordes. Here the river 
was navigable, and three wooden dug-outs 
were obtained from the natives for the 
descent to the sea. The voyageurs again 
embarked, and swept down the narrow bends 
of the turbulent floods at what are now 
Lytton, Yale, and Hope. There were passes 
where the river was such a raging torrent that 
the dug-outs had to be carried overland. 
There were places where Fraser's voyageurs 
had to climb precipices by means of frail 
ladders, made of poles and withes, that 
swayed to their tread and threatened to pre- 
cipitate them into the torrent beneath. 

When the river turned sharply west, Fraser 
could not help noticing that the Indians be- 
came more violently hostile. Far south could 
be seen the opal dome of Mount Baker, named 
by Vancouver after one of his lieutenants. 
As they advanced, the banks lowered to reedy 
swamps and mosquitoes appeared in clouds. 
What troubled Fraser most was the fact that 
the river lay many miles north of the known 
latitude of the Columbia. It daily grew on 



DESCENT OF THE FRASER RIVER 97 

him that this could not possibly be the 
Columbia. The tide rose and fell in the river. 
The Indian guide begged the white men not to 
go on ; he was afraid, he said, of the Indians 
of the sea-coast. The river channel divided. 
Natives along the shore began singing war- 
songs and beating the war-drum ; then they 
circled out threateningly round the white 
men's boats. Signs were seen of the sea 
ahead ; but the Indians were * howling like 
wolves and brandishing war - clubs,' and 
Fraser concluded that it would be unwise to 
delay longer amid such dangers. To his in- 
tense disappointment he had established the 
latitude as 49, whereas the Columbia was 
in latitude 46 20'. * This river is therefore 
not the Columbia,' he declared. ' If I had 
been convinced of this when I left my canoes, 
I would certainly have returned.' 

The return journey was fraught with danger. 
Always one man stood guard while the others 
slept ; and again and again the little party 
was surrounded by ferociously hostile bands. 
Between apprehension of the dangers of the 
wild trail of the Fraser canyons and fear of 
hostile natives, the men became so panic- 
stricken that they threw down their paddles 
and declared their intention of trying to escape 

P.P.C. C, 



98 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

overland through the mountains. Fraser 
reasoned and remonstrated, and finally threat- 
ened. After so much heroism he would not 
permit cowardly desertion. Then he forced 
each voyageur to swear on the Cross : ' I 
do solemnly swear that I will sooner perish 
than forsake in distress any of our crew 
during the present voyage.* With renewed 
self-respect they then paddled off, singing 
voyageurs' songs to keep up their courage. 
Imagine, for a moment, the scene ! The 
turbid, mad waters of the Fraser hemmed 
in between rock walls, carving a living way 
through the adamant ; banks from which 
red savages threw down rocks wherever the 
wild current drove the dug-out inshore ; 
and, tossed by the waves a chip-like craft 
containing nineteen ragged men singing like 
schoolboys 1 Once away from the coastal 
tribes, however, the white men were aided by 
the inland Carriers. They found the canoes 
and supplies in perfect condition and un- 
molested, though hundreds of Carrier Indians 
must have passed where lay the belongings of 
the white strangers. On August 5, to the 
inexpressible relief of Fort George, the little 
band once more were at their headquarters in 
New Caledonia. 



CHAPTER VII 

THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS 

WHILE Fraser was working down the wild 
canyons of the great river which now bears 
his name, other fur traders were looking to- 
wards the Pacific ocean. In 1810 John Jacob 
Astor, a New York merchant, who bought 
furs from the Nor'westers in Montreal for 
shipment to Germany, formed the Pacific 
Fur Company, and took into its service a 
number of the partners and servants of the 
North- West Company. Some of these men 
were dispatched round the Horn in the 
Tonquin to the mouth of the Columbia ; 
while another party went overland from 
Mackinaw and St Louis, following the trail of 
Lewis and Clark. One of the Nor'westers 
who entered Astor's service was Alexander 
Mackay, Mackenzie's companion on the jour- 
ney to the coast ; another was a brother 
of the Stuart who had accompanied Fraser 
through New Caledonia ; and a third was a 

99 



ioo PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

brother of the M'Dougall who commanded 
Fort M'Leod, the first fort built by the Nor'- 
westers in New Caledonia. 

In the light of subsequent developments, it 
is a matter for speculation whether these 
Nor 'westers joined Astor purposely to over- 
throw his scheme in the interests of their old 
company ; or were later bribed to desert him ; 
or, as is most likely, simply grew dissatisfied 
with the inexperienced, blundering misman- 
agement of Astor's company, and reverted 
gladly to their old service. However that 
may have been, it is certain that the North- 
West Company did not fail to take notice of 
the plans that Astor had set afoot for the 
Pacific fur trade ; for in a secret session of the 
partners, at Fort William on Lake Superior, 
' it was decided in council that the Company 
should send to Columbia River, where the 
Americans had established Astoria, and that 
a party should proceed overland to the coast.' 

It puzzled the Nor 'westers to learn that 
the river Fraser had explored in 1808 was not 
the Columbia. Where, then, were the upper 
reaches of the great River of the West which 
Gray and Vancouver had reported ? The 
company issued urgent instructions to its 
traders in the Far West to keep pushing up 



THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS 101 

the North and South Saskatchewan, up the 
Red Deer, up the Bow, up the Athabaska, up 
the Smoky, up the Pembina, and to press over 
the mountains wherever any river led ocean- 
wards through the passes. This duty of rind- 
ing new passable ways to the sea was especially 
incumbent on the company's surveyor and 
astronomer, David Thompson. He was for- 
merly of the Hudson's Bay Company, but had 
come over to the Nor'westers, and in their 
service had surveyed from the Assiniboine to 
the Missouri and from Lake Superior to the 
Saskatchewan. 

Towards the spring of 1799 Thompson had 
been on the North Saskatchewan and had 
moved round the region of Lesser Slave Lake. 
That year, at Grand Portage, at the annual 
meeting of the traders of the North-West 
Company, he was ordered to begin a thorough 
exploration of the mountains ; and the spring 
of 1800 saw him at Rocky Mountain House 1 
on the upper reaches of the North Saskatche- 
wan above the junction of the Clearwater. 
Hitherto the Nor'westers had crossed the 

1 To explain what may appear like a confusion of names, it 
may be stated that in the history of the fur trade from 1800 to 
1850 there were at various stages as many as sixteen differently 
situated fur-posts under the name of Rocky Mountain House. 



102 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

mountains by way of the Peace river. But 
Thompson was to explore a dozen new trails 
across the Great Divide. While four of his 
men crossed over to the Red Deer river and 
rafted or canoed down the South Saskat- 
chewan, Thompson himself, with five French 
Canadians and two Indian guides, crossed the 
mountains to the Kootenay country. The 
Kootenay Indians were encamped on the 
Kootenay plains preparatory to their winter's 
hunt, and Thompson persuaded some of them 
to accompany him back over the moun- 
tains to Rocky Mountain House on the North 
Saskatchewan. This was the beginning of 
the trade between the Kootenays and white 
men. Probably from these Indians Thompson 
learned of the entrance to the Rockies by the 
beautiful clear mountain-stream now named 
the Bow ; and Duncan M'Gillivray, a leading 
partner, accompanied him south from Rocky 
Mountain House to the spot on the Bow 
where to-day the city of Calgary stands. It 
was on this trip that Nor 'westers first met the 
Piegan Indians. From these horsemen of the 
plains the explorers learned that it was only 
a ten-day journey overland to the Missouri. 
Snow was falling when the traders entered 
the Rockies at what is now the Gap, on the 



THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS 103 

Canadian Pacific Railway. Inside the gate- 
way to the rugged defile of forest and moun- 
tain the traders revelled in the sublime 
scenery of the Banff valley. At Banff, east- 
ward of Cascade mountain, on the sheltered 
plain where Kootenays and Stonies used to 
camp, one can still find the circular mounds 
that mark a trading - station of this era. 
Whether the white men discovered the beauti- 
ful blue tarn now known as Devil's Lake, or 
saw the Bow river falls, where tourists to-day 
fish away long summer afternoons, or dipped 
in the famous hot springs on the slope of 
Sulphur mountain, we do not know. They 
could hardly have met and conversed with the 
Kootenays and Stonies without hearing about 
these attractions, which yearly drew Indian 
families to camp in the encircling mountains, 
while the men ranged afield to hunt. 

Thompson and M'Gillivray were back at 
Rocky Mountain House on the Saskatchewan 
for Christmas. Some time during 1800 their 
French-Canadian voyageurs are known to 
have crossed Howse Pass, the source of the 
North Saskatchewan, which was discovered 
by Duncan M'Gillivray and named after 
Joseph Howse of the North-West Company. 

For several years after this Thompson was 



104 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

engaged in making surveys for the North- 
West Company in the valley of the Peace 
river and between the Saskatchewan and the 
Churchill. In 1806 we find him in the country 
south of the Peace, which was then in charge 
of that Jules Quesnel who was to accompany 
Fraser in 1808. Fraser, as we have seen, was 
already busy exploring the region between 
M'Leod Lake and Stuart Lake, and had laid 
his plans to descend the great river which he 
thought was Gray's Columbia. Now, while 
Thompson spent the winter of 1806-7 between 
the Peace and the North Saskatchewan, trad- 
ing and exploring, he doubtless learned of 
Fraser's explorations west of the Rockies and 
of the vast extent of New Caledonia; and June 
1807 saw him over the mountains on the 
Kootenay plains, where to his infinite delight 
he came upon a turbulent river, whose swollen 
current flowed towards the Pacific. ' May 
God give me to see where its waters flow into 
the ocean,' he ejaculated. This was, however, 
but a tributary of the long-sought Columbia. 
It was the river now called the Blaeberry. 
Thompson followed down the banks of this 
stream by a well-known Indian trail, and on 
June 30 he came to the Columbia itself. 
Although the river here flowed to the north, 



THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS 105 

he must have known, from the deposits of 
blue silt and the turgidity of the current, that 
he had found at least an upper reach of the 
River of the West ; but he could hardly 
guess that its winding course would lead him 
a dance of eleven hundred miles before he 
should reach the sea. 

The party camped and built the boats they 
needed, and a fortnight later they were poling 
up-stream to the lake we to-day know as 
Windermere, where Thompson built a fort 
which he called ' Kootenai.' Here he spent 
the winter trading, and when the warm 
Chinook winds cleared away the snows, in 
April 1808, about the time Fraser was pre- 
paring to descend the Fraser river, he paddled 
up-stream to where the Columbia river has its 
source in Upper Columbia Lake. A portage 
of about a mile and a half brought him to 
another large river, which flowed southward. 
This stream the Kootenay led him south 
into the country of the Flatheads, then made 
a great bend and swept to the north. This 
was disappointing. Thompson returned to 
his fort on Windermere Lake, packed the furs 
his men had gathered, and retraced his trail 
of the previous year to Rocky Mountain 
House. He had undoubtedly found the River 



106 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

of the West, but he had learned nothing of 
its course to the sea. 

During nearly all of 1809 Thompson was 
exploring the Kootenay river and its branches 
through Idaho and Montana. Still no path 
had he found to the sea. In 1810 he seems 
to have gone east for instructions from his 
company. What the instructions were we 
may conjecture from subsequent develop- 
ments. Astor of New York, as we have seen, 
was busy launching his fur traders for opera- 
tions on the Pacific. Piegan warriors blocked 
the passage into the Rockies by the North 
Saskatchewan ; so Thompson in the autumn 
of this year ascended the Athabaska. Winter 
came early. The passes were filled with snow 
and beset by warriors. He failed to get provi- 
sions down from Rocky Mountain House ; and 
his men, cut off by hostile savages from all 
help from outside posts, had literally to cut 
and shovel their way through Athabaska Pass 
while subsisting on short rations. The men 
built huts in the pass ; some hunted, while 
others made snow-shoes and sleighs. They 
were down to rations of dog-meat and moc- 
casins, and hardly knew whether to expect 
death at the hands of raiding Piegans or from 
starvation. On New Year's Day of 1811, 



THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS 107 

when the thermometer dropped to 24 below 
zero, with a biting wind, Thompson was pack- 
ing four broken-down horses and two dogs 
over the pass to the west side of the Great 
Divide. The mountains rose precipitously on 
each side ; but when the trail began dropping 
down westward, the weather moderated, though 
the snow grew deeper ; and in the third week 
of January Thompson came on the baffling 
current of the Columbia. He camped there 
for the remainder of the winter, near the 
entrance of the Canoe River. Why he went 
up the Columbia in the spring, tracing it back 
to its source, and thence south again into 
Idaho, instead of rounding the bend and going 
down the river, we do not know. He was 
evidently puzzled by the contrary directions 
in which the great river seemed to flow. At 
all events, by a route which is not clearly 
known, Thompson struck the Spokane river in 
June 1811, near the site of the present city of 
Spokane ; and following down the Spokane, 
he again found the elusive Columbia and em- 
barked on its waters. At the mouth of the 
Snake River, on July 9, he erected a pole, on 
which he hoisted a flag and attached a sheet 
of paper claiming possession of the country 
for Great Britain and the North-West Com- 



io8 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

pany. A month later, when Astor's traders 
came up-stream from the mouth of the 
Columbia, they were amazed to find a British 
flag ' waving triumphantly ' at this spot. 
Unfortunately, Thompson's claim ignored the 
fact that both Lewis and Clark and the 
Astorians had already passed this way on 
their overland route to the Pacific. 

From this point Thompson evidently raced 
for the Pacific. Within a week he had 
passed the Dalles, passed the mouth of the 
Willamette, passed what was to become the 
site of the Hudson's Bay Company's post 
of Fort Vancouver; and at midday of Mon- 
day, July 15, he swept round a bend of the 
mighty stream and came within sight of 
the sea. Crouched between the dank, heavy 
forests and the heaving river floods, stood a 
little palisaded and fresh-hewn log fur-post 
Astoria. Thompson was two months too late 
to claim the region of the lower Columbia for 
the Nor 'westers. One can imagine the wild 
halloo with which the tired voyageurs greeted 
Astoria when their comrades of old from 
Athabaska came tumbling hilariously from 
the fort gates M'Dougall of Rocky Mountain 
House, Stuart of Chipewyan, and John Clarke, 
whom Thompson had known at Isle a la 



THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS 109 

Crosse. But where was Alexander Mackay, 
who had gone overland with Mackenzie in 
1793 ? The men fell into one another's arms 
with gruff, profane embraces. Thompson was 
haled in to a sumptuous midday dinner of 
river salmon, duck and partridge, and wines 
brought round the world. The absence of 
Mackay was the only thing that took from 
the pleasure of the occasion. 

A party of the Astorians, as we have seen, 
had sailed round the Horn on the Tonquin ; 
another party had gone overland from Mac- 
kinaw and St Louis. On the Tonquin were 
twenty sailors, four partners, twelve clerks, 
and thirteen voyageurs. She sailed from New 
York in September 1810. Jonathan Thorn, 
the captain, was a retired naval officer, who 
resented the easy familiarity of the fur traders 
with their servants, and ridiculed the sea- 
sickness of the fresh-water voyageurs. The 
Tonquin had barely rounded the Horn before 
the partners and the commander were at 
sixes and sevens. A landing was made at the 
mouth of the Columbia in March 1811, and 
eight lives were lost in an attempt to head 
small boats up against the tide-rip of river and 
sea. After endless jangling about where to 



no PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

land, where to build, how to build, the rude 
fort which Thompson saw had been knocked 
together. The Tonquin sailed up the coast 
of Vancouver Island to trade. On the vessel 
went Alexander Mackay to help in the trade 
with the coastal Indians, whom he was sup- 
posed to know. In spite of Mackay's warning 
that the Nootka tribes were notoriously trea- 
cherous and resentful towards white traders, 
Captain Thorn with lordly indifference per- 
mitted them to swarm aboard his vessel. 
Once when Mackay had gone ashore at 
Clayoquot, where Gray had wintered twenty 
years before, Thorn, forgetting that his ship 
was not a training-school, struck an old chief 
across the face and threw him over the rail. 
When Mackay heard what had happened, in- 
stead of applauding the captain's valour, he 
showed the utmost alarm, and begged Thorn 
to put out for the open sea. The captain 
smiled in scorn. Twenty Indians were wel- 
comed on the deck the very next day. More 
came. At the same time the vessel was com- 
pletely surrounded by a fleet of canoes. As 
if to throw the white men off all suspicion, 
the squaws came paddling out, laughing and 
chatting. Mackay in horror noticed that in 
the barter all the Indians were taking knives 



THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS in 

for their furs, and that groups were casually 
stationing themselves at points of vantage on 
the deck at the hatches, at the cabin door, 
along the taffrail. Mackay hurried to the 
captain. Thorn affected to ignore any danger, 
but he nevertheless ordered the anchors up. 
Seeing so many Indians still on board, the 
sailors hesitated. Thorn lost his head and 
uttered a shout. This served as a signal 
for the savages, who shrieked with derisive 
glee and fell upon the crew with knives, 
hatchets, and clubs. Down the companion- 
way tumbled the ship's clerk, Lewis, stabbed 
in the back. Over the taffrail headlong fell 
Mackay, clubbed by the Indians aboard, 
caught on the knives of the squaws below. 
The captain was so unprepared for the attack 
that he had no weapon but his pocket-knife. 
He was stunned by a club, pitched overboard, 
and literally cut to pieces by the squaws. In 
a moment the Tonquin was a shambles. All 
on deck were slaughtered but four, who gained 
the main cabin, and with muskets aimed 
through windows scattered the yelling horde. 
The Indians sprang from the ship and drew 
off, while the four white survivors escaped in 
a boat, and the TonquirCs sails flapped idly in 
the wind. Next morning the Indians paddled 



H2 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

out to plunder what seemed to be a deserted 
ship. A wounded white man appeared above 
the hatches and waved them to come on board 
and trade. They came in hosts, in hordes, in 
flocks, like carrion-birds or ants overrunning 
a half-dead thing. Suddenly earth and air at 
Clayoquot harbour were rent with a terrific 
explosion, and the sea was drenched with the 
blood of the slaughtered savages. The only 
remaining white man, the wounded Lewis, had 
blown up the powder magazine. He perished 
himself in order to punish the marauders. 

Had this story been known at Astoria when 
Thompson arrived, he would have found the 
Astorians in a thoroughly dejected condition. 
As it was, murmurs of discontent were heard. 
Here they had been marooned on the Colum- 
bia for three months without a ship, waiting for 
the contingent of the Astorians who were toil- 
ing across the continent. 1 Not thus did Nor'- 
westers conduct expeditions. What Thompson 
thought of the situation we do not know. All 
we do know is that he remained only a week. 
On July 22, fully provisioned by M'Dougall, 
he went back up the Columbia post-haste. 

1 The overland party suffered the greatest hardship and some 
loss of life, and did not arrive at Astoria till January 1812. 



THOMPSON AND THE ASTORIANS 113 

One year later we find Thompson at Fort 
William reporting the results of his expedition 
to the assembled directors of the North- West 
Company. He had surveyed every part of 
the Columbia from its source to its mouth. 
And he was the first white man on its upper 
waters. 

The War of 1812 had begun, and a British 
warship was on its way to capture Astoria. 
At the same time the Nor'westers dispatched 
an overland expedition to the Columbia. 
Among their emissaries went the men of New 
Caledonia, Alexander Henry (the younger) 
of Rocky Mountain House, Donald M'Tavish, 
and a dozen others who were former comrades 
of the leading Astorians. They succeeded in 
their mission, and in the month of October 
1813 Astor's fort was sold to the North- West 
Company and renamed Fort George. 

The methods of fur traders have been the 
same the world over : to frighten a rival off 
the ground if possible ; if not, then to buy 
him off. It is not all surmise to suppose that 
when Thompson was sent to the Pacific there 
was in view some other purpose than merely 
to survey an unknown river. But explora- 
tion and the fur trade went hand in hand ; 
and whatever the motives may have been, the 

P.P.C. H 



H4 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

result was that, after more than four years of 
arduous toil, Thompson had given to com- 
merce a great waterway. His exploration 
of the Columbia closes the period of discovery 
on the Pacific coast. 



CHAPTER VIII 

THE PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 

WHEN Astoria passed to the Nor'westers, 
with it came, as we shall see, an opportunity of 
acquiring for Great Britain the whole of the 
vast region west of the Rockies, including 
California and Alaska. Gray's feat in finding 
the mouth of the Columbia, and the explora- 
tions of Lewis and Clark overland to the same 
river, gave the United States possession of a 
part of this territory by right of discovery ; 
but this possession was practically superseded 
by the transfer of Astor's fort to the British- 
Canadian Company. Yet, to-day, we find 
Britain not in possession of California, not 
in possession of the region round the mouth 
of the Columbia, not in possession of Alaska. 
The reason for this will appear presently. 

The Treaty of Ghent which closed the War 
of 1812 made no mention of the boundaries 
of Oregon, but it provided that any territory 
captured by either nation in the course of the 

115 



n6 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

war should be restored to the original owner. 
The question then arose : did this clause in 
the treaty apply to Astoria ? Was the taking 
over of the fur-post by the British company 
in reality an act of war ? The United States 
said Yes ; Great Britain said No ; and both 
nations claimed sovereignty over Oregon. In 
1818 a provisional agreement was reached, 
under which either nation might trade and 
establish settlements in the disputed territory. 
But it was now utterly impossible for Astor 
to prosecute the fur trade on the Pacific. The 
* Bostonnais ' had lost prestige with the In- 
dians when the Tonquin sank off Clayoquot, 
and the more experienced British and Cana- 
dian traders were in control of the field. 
At this time the Hudson's Bay Company 
and the Nor'westers were waging the trade 
war that terminated in their union in 1820- 
1821 ; and when the united companies came to 
assign officers to the different districts, John 
M'Loughlin, who had been a partner in the 
North-West Company, was sent overland to 
rule Oregon. 

What did Oregon comprise ? At that 
time no man knew ; but within ten years 
after his arrival in 1824 M'Loughlin had sent 
out hunting brigades, consisting of two or 




JOHN M'LOUGHLIN 
Photographed by Savannah from an original painting 



PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 117 

three hundred horsemen, in all directions : 
east, under Alexander Ross, as far as Montana 
and Idaho ; south, under Peter Skene Ogden, 
as far as Utah and Nevada and California ; 
along the coast south as far as Monterey, 
under Tom Mackay, whose father had been 
murdered on the Tonquin and whose widowed 
mother had married M'Loughlin ; north, 
through New Caledonia, under James Douglas 
' Black Douglas ' they called the dignified, 
swarthy young Scotsman who later held 
supreme rule on the North Pacific as Sir 
James Douglas, the first governor of British 
Columbia. If one were to take a map of 
M'Loughlin's transmontane empire and lay 
it across the face of a map of Europe, it would 
cover the continent from St Petersburg to 
Madrid. 

The ruler of this vast domain was one of 
the noblest men in the annals of the fur 
trade. John M'Loughlin was a Canadian, 
born at Riviere du Loup, and he had studied 
medicine in Edinburgh. The Indians called 
him * White Eagle,' from his long, snow- 
white hair and aquiline features. When 
M'Loughlin reached Oregon by canoe two 
thousand miles to the Rockies, by pack- 
horse and canoe another seven hundred miles 



n8 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

south to the Columbia two of the first things 
he saw were that Astoria, or Fort George, was 
too near the rum of trading schooners for the 
well-being of the Indians, and that it would 
be quite possible to raise food for his men 
on the spot, instead of transporting it over 
two watersheds and across the width of a 
continent. He at once moved the head- 
quarters of the company from Astoria to a 
point on the north bank of the Columbia near 
the Willamette, where he erected Fort Van- 
couver. Then he sent his men overland to the 
Spaniards of Lower California to purchase 
seed-wheat and stock to begin farming in 
Oregon in order to provision the company's 
posts and brigades. It was about the time 
that his wheat-fields and orchards began to 
yield that some passing ocean traveller asked 
him : * Do you think this country will ever be 
settled ? ' * Sir, 1 answered 3VT Lough lin, em- 
phasizing his words by thumping his gold- 
headed cane on the floor, * wherever wheat 
grows, men will go, and colonies will grow.' 
Afterwards, when he had to choose between 
loyalty to his company and saving the lives 
of thousands of American settlers who had 
come over the mountains destitute, these 
words of his were quoted against him. He 



-V* 




PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 119 

had, according to the directors of the com- 
pany, favoured settlement rather than the 
fur trade. 

Meanwhile, M'Loughlin ruled in a sort of 
rude baronial splendour on the banks of the 
Columbia. The * Big House,' as the Indians 
always called the governor's mansion, stood in 
the centre of a spacious courtyard surrounded 
by palisades twenty feet high, with huge brass 
padlocks on the entrance-gates. Directly in 
front of the house two cannon were stationed, 
and piled up behind them ready for instant 
use were two pyramids of balls. Only officers 
of some rank dined in the Hall ; and if 
visitors were present from coastal ships that 
ascended the river, Highland kilties stood 
behind the governor's chair playing the bag- 
pipes. Towards autumn the southern and 
eastern brigades set out on their annual hunt 
in California, Nevada, Montana, and Idaho. 
Towards spring, when the upper rivers had 
cleared of ice, the northern brigades set out 
for the interior of New Caledonia. Nothing 
more picturesque was ever seen in the fur 
trade than these Oregon brigades. French- 
Canadian hunters with their Indian wives 
would be gathered to the number of two 
hundred. Indian ponies fattened during the 



120 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

summer on the deep pasturage of the Willa- 
mette or the plains of Walla Walla would be 
brought in to the fort and furbished forth in 
gayest of trappings. Provisions would then 
be packed on their backs. An eager crowd 
of wives and sweethearts and children would 
dash out for a last good-bye. The governor 
would personally shake hands with every de- 
parting hunter. Then to bugle-call the riders 
mounted their restive ponies, and the captain 
Tom Mackay or Ogden or Ross would 
lead the winding cavalcade into the defiles of 
mountain and forest, whence perhaps they 
would not emerge for a year and a half. 
Though the brigades numbered as many as 
two hundred men, they had to depend for 
food on the rifles of the hunters, except for 
flour and tobacco and bacon supplied at the 
fort. Once the brigade passed out of sight 
of the fort, the hunters usually dashed ahead 
to anticipate the stampeding of game by the 
long, noisy, slow-moving line. Next to the 
hunters would come the old bell-mare, her 
bell tinkling through the lonely silences. Far 
in the rear came the squaws and trappers. 
Going south, the aim was to reach the traverse 
of the deserts during winter, so that snow 
would be available for water. Going east, the 



PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 121 

aim was to cross the mountain passes before 
snow-fall. Going north, the canoes must 
ascend the upper rivers before ice formed. 
But times without number trappers and 
hunters were caught in the desert without 
snow for water ; or were blocked in the moun- 
tain passes by blizzards ; or were wrecked by 
the ice cutting their canoes on the upper 
rivers. Innumerable place-names commemor- 
ate the presence of humble trapper and hunter 
coursing the wilderness in the Oregon brigades. 
For example : Sublette's River, Payette's 
River, John Day's River, the Des Chutes, and 
many others. Indeed, many of the place- 
names commemorate the deaths of lonely 
hunters in the desert. Crow and Blackfoot 
and Sioux Indians often raided the brigades 
when on the home trip loaded with peltry. 
One can readily believe that rival traders 
from the Missouri instigated some of these 
raids. There were years when, of two hundred 
hunters setting out, only forty or fifty re- 
turned ; there were years when the Hudson's 
Bay brigades found snow-bound, storm-bound, 
starving American hunters, and as a price for 
food exacted every peltry in the packs ; and 
there were years when rival American traders 
bribed every man in Ogden's brigade to desert. 



122 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

The New Caledonia brigades set out by 
canoe huge, long, cedar-lined craft manned 
by fifty or even ninety men. These brigades 
were decked out gayest of all. Flags flew at 
the prow of each craft. Voyageurs adorned 
themselves with coloured sashes and head- 
bands, with tinkling bells attached to the 
buckskin fringe of trouser-leg. Where the 
rivers narrowed to dark and shadowy canyons, 
the bagpipes would skirl out some Highland 
air, or the French voyageurs would strike up 
some song of the habitant, paddling and 
chanting in perfect rhythm, and sometimes 
beating time with their paddles on the gun- 
wales. Leaders of the canoe brigades under- 
stood well the art of never permitting fear to 
enter the souls of their voyageurs. Where 
the route might be exposed to Indian raid, a 
regale of rum would be dealt out; and the 
captain would keep the men paddling so hard 
there was no time for thought of danger. 

In course of time the northern brigades no 
longer attempted to ascend the entire way to 
the interior of New Caledonia by boat. Boats 
and canoes would be left on the Columbia at 
Fort Colville or at Fort Okanagan (both south 
of the present international boundary), and 
the rest of the trail would be pursued by pack- 



PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 123 

horse. Kamloops became the great half-way 
house of these north-bound brigades ; and 
horses were left there to pasture on the high, 
dry plains, while fresh horses were taken to 
ascend the mountain trails. Fort St James 
on Stuart Lake became the chief post of New 
Caledonia. Here ruled young James Douglas, 
who had married the daughter of the chief 
factor William Connolly. Ordinarily, the fort 
on the blue alpine lake lay asleep like an 
August day ; but on the occasion of a visit 
by the governor or the approach of a brigade, 
the drowsy post became a thing of life. Boom 
of cannon, firing of rifles, and skirling of 
bagpipes welcomed the long cavalcade. The 
captain of the brigade as he entered the fort 
usually wore a high and pompous beaver hat, 
a velvet cloak lined with red silk, and knee- 
breeches with elaborate Spanish embossed- 
leather leggings. All this show was, of course, 
for the purpose of impressing the Indians. 
Whether impressed or not, the Indians always 
counted the days to thewild riot of feasting and 
boat-races and dog-races and horse-races that 
marked the arrival or departure of a brigade. 
New Caledonia, as we know, is now a part 
of Canada ; but why does not the Union Jack 
float over the great region beyond the Rockies 



to the south south of the Strait of Juan de 
Fuca and the 49th parallel ? Over all this 
territory British fur lords once held sway. 
California was in the limp ringers of Mexico, 
but the British traders were operating there, 
and had ample opportunity to secure it by 
purchase long before it passed to the United 
States in 1848. Sir George Simpson, the re- 
sident governor of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, advised the company to purchase it, 
but the directors in London could not see 
furs in the suggestion. Simpson would have 
gone further, and reached out the company's 
long arm to the islands of the Pacific and 
negotiated with the natives for permission to 
build a fort in Hawaii. James Douglas was for 
buying all Alaska from the Russians ; but to 
the directors of the Hudson's Bay Company 
Alaska seemed as remote and as worthless as 
Siberia, so they contented themselves with 
leasing a narrow strip along the shore. Thus 
California, Alaska, and Hawaii might easily 
have become British territory ; but the oppor- 
tunity was lost, and they went to the United 
States. So, too, did the fine territory of 
Oregon, out of which three states were after- 
wards added to the American Union. But 
the history of Oregon is confused in a maze of 



PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 125 

politics, into which we cannot enter here. As 
we have seen, Bruno Heceta, acting for Spain, 
was the first mariner to sight the Columbia, 
and the American, Robert Gray, was the first 
to enter its mouth, thus proving Heceta's 
conjecture of a great river. Then for Great 
Britain came Vancouver and Broughton ; 
then the Americans, Lewis and Clark and the 
Astorians ; and finally Thompson, the British 
Nor'wester and the first man to explore the 
great river from its source to the sea. Then 
during the War of 1812 the American post on 
the Columbia passed to the North- West Com- 
pany of Montreal ; and if it had not been 
for the ' joint occupancy ' agreement between 
Great Britain and the United States in 1818, 
Oregon would undoubtedly have remained 
British. But with the c joint occupancy ' 
arrangement leaving sovereignty in dispute, 
M'Loughlin of Oregon knew well that in the 
end sovereignty would be established, as 
always, by settlement. 

First came Jedediah Smith, the American 
fur trader, overland. He was robbed to the 
shirt on his back by Indians at the Umpqua 
river. There and then came the great choice 
to M'Loughlin should he save the life of 
rivals, or leave them to be murdered by 



126 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Indians ? He sent Tom Mackay to the Ump- 
qua, punished the robber Indians, secured 
the pilfered furs, and paid the American for 
them. Then came American missionaries 
overland the Lees and Whitman. Then 
came Wyeth, the trader and colonizer from 
Boston. The company fought Wyeth's trade 
and bought him out ; but when the turbulent 
Indians crowded round the ' White Eagle,' 
chief of Fort Vancouver, asking, ' Shall we 
kill shall we kill the " Bostonnais " ? ' 
M'Loughlin struck the chief plotter down, 
drove the others from the fort, and had it 
noised about among the tribes that if any 
one struck the white ' Bostonnais,' M'Lough- 
lin would strike him. At the same time, 
M'Loughlin earnestly desired that the terri- 
tory should remain British. In 1838, at a 
council of the directors in London, he person- 
ally urged the sending of a garrison of British 
soldiers, and that the government should take 
control of Oregon in order to establish British 
rights. His suggestions received little con- 
sideration. Had not the company single- 
handed held all Rupert's Land for almost 
two hundred years ? Had they not triumphed 
over all rivals ? They would do so here. 
But by 1843 immigrants were pouring over 



PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 127 

the mountains by the thousands. Washington 
Irving's Astoria and Captain Bonneville, and 
the political cry of * Fifty-four forty or fight ' 
which meant American possession of all 
south of Alaska had roused the attention of 
the people of the United States to the merits of 
Oregon, and caused them to make extravagant 
claims. Long before the Oregon Treaty of 
1846, which established the 49th parallel as 
the boundary, M'Loughlin had foreseen what 
was coming. The movement from the east 
had become a tide. The immigrants who 
came over the Oregon Trail in 1843 were 
starving, almost naked, and without a roof. 
Again the Indians crowded about M'Lough- 
lin. ' Shall we kill ? Shall we kill ? ' they 
asked. M'Loughlin took the rough American 
overlanders into his fort, fed them, advanced 
them provisions on credit, and sent them 
to settle on the Willamette. Some of them 
showed their ingratitude later by denouncing 
M'Loughlin as ' an aristocrat and a tyrant.' 
The settlers established a provisional govern- 
ment in 1844, and joined in the rallying-cry 
of ' Fifty-four forty or fight.' This, as 
M'Loughlin well knew, was the beginning of 
the end. His friends among the colonists 
begged him to subscribe to the provisional 



128 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

government in order that they might protect 
his fort from some of their number who 
threatened to ' burn it about his ears/ He 
had appealed to the British government for 
protection, but no answer had come ; and at 
length, after a hard struggle and many mis- 
givings, he cast in his lot with the Americans. 
Two years later, in 1846, he retired from the 
service of the company and went to live among 
the settlers. He died at Oregon City on the 
Willamette in 1857. 

As early as June 1842 M'Loughlin had sent 
Douglas prospecting in Vancouver Island, 
which was north of the immediate zone of 
dispute, for a site on which to erect a new 
post. The Indian village of Camosun, the 
Cordoba of the old Spanish charts, stood on 
the site of the present city of Victoria. Here 
was fresh water ; here was a good harbour ; 
here was shelter from outside gales. Across 
the sea lay islands ever green in a climate 
always mild and salubrious. Fifteen men left 
old Fort Vancouver with Douglas in March 
1843 in the company's ship the Beaver, and 
anchored at Vancouver Island, just outside 
Camosun Bay. With Douglas went the Jesuit 
missionary, Father Bolduc, who on March 19 



PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 129 

celebrated the first Mass ever said on Van- 
couver Island, and afterwards baptized In- 
dians till he was fairly exhausted. In three 
days Douglas had a well dug and timbers 
squared. For every forty pickets erected by 
the Indians he gave them a blanket. By 
September stockades and houses had been 
completed, and as many as fifty men had come 
to live at the new fort, to which the name 
Victoria was finally given. Victoria became 
the headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany on the Pacific. It was unique as a 
fortified post, in that it was built without the 
driving of a single nail, wooden pegs being 
used instead. 

By 1849 the discovery of gold in California 
was bringing a rush of overlanders. There 
had been rumours of the discovery of precious 
metals on the Fraser and in East Kootenay. 
The company became alarmed ; and Sir John 
Pelly, the governor in England, and Sir George 
Simpson, the governor in America, went to 
the British government with the disquiet- 
ing question : What is to hinder American 
colonists rolling north of the boundary and 
establishing right of possession there as they 
did on the Columbia ? By no stretch of its 
charter could the Hudson's Bay Company 

P.P.C. T 



130 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

claim feudal rights west of the Rockies. 
What, my Lord Grey asks, would the com- 
pany advise the British government to do to 
avert this danger from a tide of democracy 
rolling north ? Why, of course, answers Sir 
John Pelly, proclaim Vancouver Island a 
British colony and give the company a grant 
of the territory and the company will colonize 
it with British subjects. The proposal was 
laid before parliament. It would be of no 
profit to follow the debate that ensued in the 
House of Commons, which was chiefly * words 
without knowledge darkening counsel.' The 
request was officially granted in January 1849 ; 
and Richard Blanshard, a barrister of London, 
was dispatched as governor of the new colony. 
But as he had neither salary nor subjects, he 
went back to England in disgust in 1851, and 
James Douglas of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany reigned in his stead. 

But fate again played the unexpected part, 
and rang down the curtain on the fur lords of 
the Pacific coast. A few years previously 
Douglas had seen M'Loughlin compelled to 
choose between loyalty to his company and 
loyalty to humanity. A choice between his 
country and his company was now unex- 
pectedly thrust on the reticent, careful, master- 



PASSING OF THE FUR LORDS 131 

ful Douglas. In 1856 gold was discovered in 
the form of large nuggets on the Fraser and 
the Thompson, and adventurers poured into 
the country 20,000 in a single year. Douglas 
foresaw that this meant British empire on the 
Pacific and that the supremacy of the fur 
traders was about to pass away. The British 
government bought back Vancouver Island, 
and proclaimed the new colony of British 
Columbia on the mainland. Douglas retired 
from the company's service and was appointed 
governor of both colonies. In 1866 they were 
united under one government. 

The stampede of treasure-seekers up the 
Fraser is another story. When the new colony 
on the mainland came into being, and the 
Hudson's Bay Company fell from the rank of 
a feudal overlord to that of a private trader, 
the pioneer days of the Pacific became a thing 
of the past. 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 

THE bibliography of the Pacific is enormous. 
There is, indeed, a record of discovery and explora- 
tion on the Pacific coast almost as large as that 
of New France or New England. Only a few of 
the principal books can be mentioned here; but 
in most of these will be found good bibliographies 
which will point the reader to original sources, if 
he wishes to pursue the subject. 

ON DRAKE. Drake and the Tudor Navy, in two 
volumes, by Julian Corbett (1898) ; Sir Francis 
Drake, by the same author (1890), in the ' English 
Men of Action ' series ; The World Encompassed, 
by Francis Fletcher (1628). See also the article 
on Drake in the Dictionary of National Biography. 

ON VITUS BERING AND THE RUSSIANS. Peter 
the Great, by Williams (1859) ; Peter the Great, by 
Motley (1877) ; Coxe's Discoveries of the Russians 
(1781) ; Lauridsen's Vitus Bering (1885) ; Laut's 
Vikings of the Pacific (1005). 

ON COOK AND VANCOUVER. Cook's Voyage to 
the Pacific Ocean (1784) ; Ledyard's Journal of 
Cook's Last Voyage (1783) ; Sir Walter Besant's 
Captain Cook (1890), in the 'English Men of 
Action ' series ; Kitson's Captain James Cook, the 
Circumnavigator (1907) ; Vancouver's Voyage of 

132 



BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 133 

Discovery to the North Pacific Ocean (1798). See 
also the articles on Cook and Vancouver in the 
Dictionary of National Biography. 

ON THE EXPLORATIONS OF MACKENZIE, 
FRASER, AND THOMPSON. Mackenzie's Voyages 
(1801) ; Burpee's Search for the Western Sea (1908) ; 
Fur Traders of the Far West, by Alexander Ross 
(1855) ; Laut's Conquest of the Great Northwest 
(1908) ; Canada and its Provinces, vol. iv (1914). 

ON THE FUR TRADERS BEYOND THE ROCKIES. 
Morice's History of the Northern Interior of 
British Columbia (1904) ; Sir James Douglas, by 
Coats and Gosnell (1908), in the 'Makers of 
Canada ' series ; Canada and its Provinces, vol. xxi 
(1914) ; Bancroft's History of the Northwest Coast 
(1884), and his History of Oregon (1888) ; Lyman's 
History of Oregon ( 1903) . For an exhaustive state- 
ment of the Oregon Boundary Question, see the 
article, * Boundary Disputes and Treaties,' by 
James White, in Canada and its Provinces, vol. viii. 



P.P.C. 12 



INDEX 



Alaska, discovered, 20-2 ; Rus- 
sian regime inaugurated in, 
44. 

Aleutian Islands, discovery of, 
22 -9> 37 i the hunt for furs on, 

33*44- 
Aleuts, their hard lot at the 

hands of Russian fur traders, 

34-9; taketheir revenge, 39-43. 
Anian, strait of, 8, 9-10. 
Astor, John Jacob, forms the 

Pacific Fur Company, 99, 

100, 106. 
Astoria, the fur-post on the 

Columbia, 108, no; sold to 

the North-West Company, 

113, 115, 118. 
Astorians. See Pacific Fur 

Company. 

Baranoff, a Russian trader on 
the Pacific Coast, 74. 

Barkley, Captain, locates Strait 
of Juan de Fuca, 57, 59. 

Bering, Vitus, his first expedi- 
tion to the North Pacific, 13- 
15 ; his second expedition, 15- 
33, 45 ; his death, 28, 46, 52. 

Blanshard, Richard, governor 
of Vancouver Island, 130. 

Bolduc, Father, with Douglas 
on Vancouver Island, 128-9. 

Boston, its interest in the Paci- 
fic Coast, 55, 59 ; and settle- 
ment in Oregon, 126. 



Bostonnais, the ubiquitous, 54- 

55, "6. 

Britain. See Great Britain. 

British Columbia, first forts 
built in, 87, 89, 90 ; the fear 
of American aggression, 129, 
131 ; proclaimed a British 
colony, 131. See New Cale- 
donia. 

Broughton, Lieut. Robert, with 
Vancouver's expedition to the 
Pacific Coast, 70. 

Carrier Indians, the, 77-8, 82, 
83, 88, 92, p4-6, 98. 

Chinese, their interest in sea- 
otter furs, 31-2. 

Chirikoff, Lieut, explores the 
North Pacific, 18, 30. 

Clark, William, his mission to 
the Pacific Coast, 86, 87, 90, 
108, 125. 

Clayoquot Sound, 60 ; the 
tragedy at, 110-12. 

Clerke, Captain Charles, in 
command of Cook's expedi- 
tion, 52. 

Columbia river, 53, 56, 92, 97 ; 
discovered by Gray, 67, 86 ; 
missed, then claimed, by Van- 
couver, 66, 69-70 ; Astor's 
mission to, 99 ; descended by 
Thompsonj 104-9. 

Cook, Captain James, his quest 
of a north-east passage from 

135 



136 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Fraser, Simon, 80 ; his explora- 
tions in New Caledonia, 87, 
88-90, 104 ; his descent of the 
Fraser, 9/0-8. 

Fraser river, 63-4, 67; Mac- 
kenzie on, 81-2 ; descended 
by Fraser, 90-7 ; discovery of 
gold on, 129, 131. 

Fuca, Juan de, his north-east 
passage from the Pacific, 12. 
See Juan de Fuca. 



the Pacific, 45-9 ; his tragic 
death, 49-52. 

Cossacks, their harsh treatment 
of the Aleuts, 34-9 ; pay the 
penalty, 39-43. 

Delisle de la Croyere, with 
Bering's second expedition, 
17, 18. 

Douglas, James, his Oregon 
brigade, 117, 123, 124; gov- 
ernor of Vancouver Island, 
128-30 ; of British Columbia, 

131- 

Douglas, Captain William, a 
Pacific Coast trader, 57-8, 
59, 61. 

Drake, Sir Francis, with Haw- 
kins at Vera Cruz, 1-2 ; his 
raid on Panama, 3 ; his raid- 
ing expedition to the Pacific, 
3-8 ; his attempt to find a 
north-east passage, 8-10. 

Drusenin, Alexis, clubbed to 
death by Aleuts, 39-40. 

East India Company, its 
foreign commerce, 1 1-12. 

Elisa, Spanish explorer on the 
Pacific Coast, 60-1, 62, 64. 

Elizabeth, Queen, honours 
Drake, 4, 9. 

England, 9. See Great Britain. 

Fort Chipewyan, 72, 73, 88. 

Fort Defence, 60; the Indian 
raid on, 61. 

Fort George, 90, 98, 113. 

Fort M'Leod, the first fur- 
post in British Columbia, 87, 
100. 

Fort St James, chief post of 
New Caledonia, 89, 90, 123. 

Fort Vancouver, 108, 118. 



Galiano, Don Dionisio, ex- 
plores the Pacific Coast, 64, 
67-8. 

Gamaland, the mythical con- 
tinent, 12, 14-15, 17, 18. 

Ghent, treaty of, and the Paci- 
fic Coast, 115-16. 

Golden Hind, ' the first English 
ship to sail the Pacific, 4-9. 

Gray, Captain Robert, his ex- 
pedition to the Pacific Coast, 
55, 5<5> 57-6o, 61-2 ; discovers 
the Columbia, 67, 69-70, 74, 
125. 

Great Britain, her interest in 
the Pacific Coast, 53-4, 113, 
115, 123-4 > the Nootka Affair, 
65-6 ; her exploring expedi- 
tions under Cook and Van- 
couver, 46, 66-7 ; her 'joint 
occupancy* agreement with 
the United States, 115-16, 125, 
127-8 ; proclaims colony of 
British Columbia, 129-31. 

Hanna, Captain, trades on the 
Pacific Coast, 58, 59. 

Haro, Gonzales de, at Nootka, 
60. 

Hawkins, Sir John, his recep- 
tion at Vera Cruz, 1-2. 

Hearne, Samuel, explorer, 45. 



INDEX 



Heceta, Bruno, his River of the 
West, 52, 56, 58, 62, 67, 125. 

Hudson's Bay Company, the, 
45, 53; interested in the 
Pacific fur trade, 71 ; its 
jurisdiction over Oregon, 116- 
123 ; its short-sighted policy, 
124, 126-8 ; founds a colony 
on Vancouver Island, 128-31. 

Indians of the Pacific Coast, 
and Cook, 47-8 ; and Gray, 
56, 61-2 ; and Mackenzie, 83, 
84-5 ; and Fraser, 88, 96-8 ; 
and the Astorians, 110-12; 
and M'Loughlin, 117, 119, 
125-6, 127 ; and the Oregon 
brigades, 121, 123; and 
Douglas, 128-9. See Aleuts 
and Carrier Indians. 

Juan de Fuca, strait of, 12 ; the 
search for, 17, 45, 47, 53, 56 ; 
located by Barkley, 57. 

Kamchatka, 13 ; and the fur 
trade on the Aleutians, 31-9, 
49. See Petropavlovsk. 

Kendrick, Captain John, his 
trading expedition to the 
Pacific Coast, 55, 56, 57-60. 

Kootenay Indians, the, 102, 103. 

La P6rouse, a French explorer 
on the Pacific Coast, 58. 

Lewis, Meri wether, his over- 
land expedition to the Pacific, 
86, 87, 90, 108, 125. 

Lewis, an Astorian, his plucky 
end, Hi-is. 

M 'Doug-all, Duncan, at Astoria, 
108, 112. 

M 'Dougall, James, his explora- 
tions, 87-8. 



M'Gillivray, Duncan, accom- 
panies Thompson in explor- 
ing expedition, 102-3. 

Mackay, Alexander, with 
Mackenzie's Pacific expedi- 
tion, 73, 76, 79; joins the 
Astorians, 99, 109 ; mass- 
acred at Clayoquot, no-ii. 

Mackay, Thomas, his Oregon 
brigade, 117, 119-21, 126. 

Mackenzie, Sir Alexander, 53, 
71-2 ; his Pacific expedition, 
72-3 ; his journey up the 
Peace and Fraser, 73-82 ; 
reaches the Pacific, 83-5, 86. 

M'Loughlin, Dr John, ruler in 
Oregon, 116-19, 128 ; his 
great choice and desire, 125- 
128 ; his death, 128. 

Maquinna, a Pacific Coast 
chief, 68, 69. 

Martinez, Don Joseph, his high- 
handed action at Nootka, 59. 

Meares, Captain John, a trader 
on the Pacific Coast, 57-8, 
59- 

Mexico, pilots of, their ex- 
plorations on the Pacific 
Coast, 62-5. 

Narvaez, his discoveries on 
the Pacific Coast, 62-4. 

New Caledonia, 87, 89, 122-3. 
See British Columbia. 

Nootka, Cook at, 47 ; English 
and American traders at, 57- 
58 ; the Nootka Affair, 59-60, 
61, 66, 68-9, 73- 

'North -West America,' the 
first ship built on the Pacific 
Coast, 57. 

North- West Company, the, 53, 
116; and the race for the 
Pacific, 71, 99-101, 113. 



138 PIONEERS OF THE PACIFIC COAST 

Ogden, Peter Skene, his Ore- I Rocky Mountain House, 101 



gon brigade, 117, 110-21. 

Oregon, extent of under Hud- 
son's Bay Company juris- 
diction, 116-17; colonization 
in, 1 18 ; hunting brigades of, 
119-23; acquired by United 
States, 124, 125; American 
immigration into, 125-7. 

Oregon Treaty, the, 127. 

Pacific Coast, exploration of, 
8, 12, 46-8, 52, 62-5, 66-8, 70, 
125; beginning of struggle 
for control of, 53-4. 

Pacific Fur Company, the, 71 ; 
founded, 99, 100, 109; at 
Astoria, 108, 109-10, 112; 
the Clayoquot tragedy, 109- 

112. 

Pacific Ocean, 'a closed sea,' 
i, 55-6, 65 ; Drake's raids on 
Spanish treasure-ships on, 
5-8.; regarding a north-east 
passage from, 9-10, 48-9. See 
Pacific Coast. 

Pelly, Sir John, governor of the 
Hudson's Bay Company, 129- 
130. 

Peter the Great, his ambition 
to make Russia a world- 
power, 11-14. 

Petropavlovsk, Bering's ex- 
pedition leaves, 16-17; re- 
turns to, 30-3. 

Piegan Indians, the, 102, 106. 

Pushkareff, his diabolical 
treatment of Aleuts, 38-9. 

Quadra, Don Juan Francisco, 
58 ; represents Spain in the 
Nootka Conference, 68-9, 70. 

Quesnel, Jules, with Fraser's 
expedition, 90, 104. 



and note. 
Rocky Mountain Portage, 75- 

77, 87, 88. 
Ross, Alexander, his Oregon 

brigade, 117, 119-21. 
Russia, and the fur trade on the 

Aleutians, 39, 43 ; her interest 

in the Pacific Coast, 44, 53-4, 

70. See Cossacks. 

Sandwich Islands, Cook's tra- 
gic death on, 49-52. 

Simpson, Sir George, governor 
of the Hudson's Bay Com- 
pany, 124, 120-30. 

Smith, Jedediah, befriended by 
M'Loughlin in Oregon, 125- 
126. 

Spain, her supremacy in the 
South Seas and in the Paci- 
fic, i, 12, 53-4, 55-6, 65, 74 ; 
her treachery at Vera Cruz, 
2, 55 ; the Nootka Affair, 59- 
60, 66, 67-9 ; her explorations 
on the Pacific Coast, 61, 62- 
65, 70, 74. 

Steller, George W., with Ber- 
ing's second expedition, 18, 
21, 27, 28. 

Stuart, John, with Fraser in 
New Caledonia, 88-90. 

Thompson, David, his search 
for a river to the Pacific, 101- 
106 ; his descent of the Col- 
umbia, 104-9, 112-13, 114, 
125. 

Thorn, Captain Jonathan, 
massacred at Clayoquot, 109- 



United States, enter the 
struggle for the control of 



INDEX 



139 



the Pacific, 53-5, 67, 70, 86, 
124 ; the Louisiana purchase, 
86 ; send an expedition to the 
Pacific Coast, 86 ; the ' joint 
occupancy' agreement with 
Britain, 115-16, 125 ; and Ore- 
gon, 125-8. 

Valdes, Don Cayetano, ex- 
plores the Pacific Coast, 64, 
67-8. 

Vancouver, Captain George, 



46 ; his exploring expedition 
to the Pacific Coast, 66-8, 69- 
70, 74, 84, 96; represents 
Britain in the Nootka Con- 
ference, 68-9. 

Vancouver Island, 48-9, 67-8; 
colony founded on, 128-9, J 3 



War of 1812, and Astoria, 113. 
Waxel, Lieut., with Bering's 
expedition, 19, 24, 25. 



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